Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chicken about urban chickens

I love the idea of urban hens. There is nothing I would like better than to have a small flock of hens merrily existing in my back yard. It's just another brick in the wall of my plan to turn my back yard into a little urban farm! (This plan still exists mostly in my head, and is being implemented extremely slowly, over the course of years. But it is a plan nonetheless!)

But it seems the City of Waterloo has struck another blow against urban chickens. For the past two years, the City has been running a "pilot project" of sorts, where certain registered households are permitted to keep hens under close scrutiny. After the two years was up (and after lots of study, public consultation, report-writing and bylaw-drafting) at a recent Council meeting the matter was voted on, and came down to a tie. It means the grandfathered hens are still safe, but the motion was defeated  What's going to happen going forward?? I am a resident of Kitchener (though we are oh-so-close to Waterloo, with the property line of our back yard falling right on the city boundary) and while we in K-Town are expressly prohibited from keeping hens by the letter of the law, I had hoped that if Waterloo went ahead with allowing urban chickens, Kitchener City Council would be inspired to follow suit.

There is a blog post HERE that talks about some of the reasons why the motion might have been defeated, and touches on the possibility of an underlying fear that city-dwellers might have against the erosion of the boundaries between urban and rural existence. It's quite interesting.

Of course, bylaws are only enforced when there are complaints, and there are many households in the city of Kitchener with hens! But I'm just not brave enough to do it...I'm terrified of the idea of having to "get rid" of the birds once I have them and my neighbours complain. So, I continue to watch the issue, and fantasize about moving to the darn country where I can do these things....

Anyway. What really gets me about the whole issue is sort of the same thing as with the local transit debate. There's a very vocal contingent of naysayers who seem to think they can tell me what I can and can't do in my own backyard because it'll somehow diminish the enjoyment of THEIR backyards. In the meantime, I have to waste time combing through my garden to pick out the nasty cat turds from other peoples' cats before I can plant my vegetable seeds. (Seriously, if I wanted to clean litterboxes I would get pet cats of my own.) I have to listen to my neighbourhood barking dogs, and loud music. There are bylaws against all these things, of course, but if I call for enforcement then I'm a bad neighbour.

Urban living has its benefits but sometimes I think I'm just not cut out to co-exist with other people.

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