Recently, a Calgary City Council Committee decided not to go ahead with a pilot program that would have allowed a few dozen families to legally raise hens in their back yards. Now, because of this decision, many who already have chickens (a friend of mine among them) are being forced to break a city bylaw in order to keep them and all the benefits they present.
Like any other pet, chickens offer companionship and unconditional love. Unlike most common pets, chickens provide a healthy, sustainable source of protein in the eggs they lay. Contrary to popular belief, roosters are not required in order for hens to produce eggs. Such a requirement would be equivalent to saying that a woman must have a man in order to ovulate – and we know that is just not true. Roosters are only required for the fertilization of eggs, and so the production of more chickens. The proposed pilot project would have excluded roosters, and anyone who currently raises urban chickens uses only hens anyway.
It seems as though the Calgary Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK) has a lot of work ahead of them in the form of educating the public and City Council. But it is a battle many are willing to fight. According to the CBC and the Calgary Herald, many people are ready and willing to take the City to task in court. I find it rather interesting that it was only May 29, 2010 when the Herald ran a story announcing that a Council Committee was looking into this pilot program, only to have it rejected less than one week later on June 3, 2010. I have to wonder, then, if the Committee ever really took the project seriously.
To me, all this points to the answer to my original question. Those who grow their own chickens notwithstanding, it seems that yes, Calgary does hate chickens. This conclusion can also be gleaned from some of the many hateful comments attached to each of the news stories linked above.
One more disturbing item, though. It seems the City’s bylaw boss, Bill Bruce, believes that city bylaws can trump basic human rights.
One anonymous commenter on the May 29 Herald article lists some benefits of chickens quite succinctly, using dogs as an example for comparison.
- Dogs bite and tear up our children, adults and other animals.
Chickens don’t harm other animals except for insects.
- Dogs defecate and urinate in the house on many occasions.
Chickens are in coops away from the house.
- Dogs cost a tonne of money to maintain and don’t produce anything material.
Chicken’s maintenance costs are drastically lower and produce eggs and meat.
- Dogs bark all the time and disturb the entire neighbourhood.
Chickens are fairly quiet just clucking a little and always go to sleep at night.
- Dogs roam neighbourhoods and defecate on front lawns.
Not that I don’t like dogs, but I also love the idea of chickens in the back yard producing eggs. Yes, there will always be people who abuse the privilege of having them. These are the people who let their dogs run rampant around the neighbourhood, don’t pick up after their dogs, allow their dogs to bark all the time, or physically abuse their dogs. Bylaw enforcement is supposed to deal with these problems, and it is part of the reason behind pet licensing. Of course, I personally feel that bylaw enforcement is inept, with a bark far worse than its bite. If you want real bylaw enforcement, go to San Francisco.