Ever since I can remember I've heard the comment that there is "no difference" between Canadians and Americans. I respectfully beg to differ as there is a difference on so many levels! We have unique Canadian culture consisting of Canadianisms, a Canadian perspective on world events, Canadian cuisine as well as products and foods only available in Canada. This blog is dedicated to celebrating all things Canadian from "my perspective" as a Canadian. Please enjoy your visit and be sure to visit often.

Garden Gnome
Americans should never underestimate the constant pressure on Canada which the mere presence of the United States has produced. We're different people from you and we're different people because of you. Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is effected by every twitch and grunt. It should not therefore be expected that this kind of nation, this Canada, should project itself as a mirror image of the United States.
- Pierre Trudeau

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Great Backyard Chicken Debate

Communities across Canada are being forced into the debate as to whether or not allow people to raise chickens in their backyards. Currently it is legal to have backyard chickens in: Victoria, BC; Surrey, BC; Brampton, ON; Guelph, ON; and Niagara Falls, ON. Each of these have specific restrictions and roosters are not allowed. Other Canadian communities have passed bylaws to prohibit residents from having backyard chickens. In April of 2009 Waterloo, ON banned backyard chickens making it illegal to have them even though major cities across North America are legalizing having backyard chickens. Oshawa, ON is in the process of passing a bylaw that will make owning backyard chickens illegal. This bylaw to go into effect April 2010 will include pigeons, ducks and geese. Toronto, Calgary, Waterloo and other larger centers are still debating the issue. In the meantime some residents have been charged including a Calgary mother of three with keeping chickens within city limits while the debate continues. There are a number of vocal pro-chicken advocacy groups including: the Halifax Chicken Group, The Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (also known as CLUCK), Backyard Chickens and Poultry Canada, Omelettes for Everyone and the Waterloo Hen Association.

I recently discussed the backyard chicken debate on my gardening blog as raising chickens fits in nicely with urban gardening. The first two posts included part 1 and part 2 of an exclusive Green Apple Pie interview with Toronto Chickens. The speaker's face was obscured with two chicken eggs in order to protect her identity because she raises chickens in her own backyard in a residential neighbourhood in the City of Toronto. The municipality has no way of knowing if someone has backyard chickens unless there is a complaint from a neighbour or they are reported by someone who happens to see they have chickens. Some backyard chicken owners have gone into hiding in order to keep their chickens despite the bylaws.

One roadblock in legalizing keeping backyard chickens in Canada is the poulty association Chicken Farmers of Canada. A resident with 4 laying chickens would in theory produce 4 eggs per day or 120 eggs (10 doz) per month. That would be 10 doz eggs not purchased from grocery stores. Multiply that by 100 households and that works out to a lot of eggs not being purchased from grocery stores, directly affecting the chicken farmers of Canada. There are also noise and health concerns both unfounded but given as reasons for passing bylaws prohibiting having backyard chickens. A likely used argument is aesthetics as well since some chicken coops don't look as nice as they could which could in effect lower property values of surrounding homes. It's a flimsy argument but one city hall will take note of. Despite the obstacles the backyard chicken movement continues to grow across Canada.

As pets backyard chickens are far less problematic than dogs or cats or even snakes that can cause bodily harm to others. Just recently a snake escaped it's cage in Peterborough, ON then managed to get into a nearby apartment when it bit a man working at his computer. From time to time there are also news reports of dogs biting postal workers or other people, or attacking smaller dogs and even of cats biting. This isn't a problem with chickens. In the big picture, backyard chickens are a viable way to provide inexpensive protein for your family as well so they do earn their keep. In these hard economic times this is one way for families to be a bit more self sufficient and perhaps lessen the burden on social assistance and food banks.

It will be interesting to see how this current debate will play out across Canada.


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