City coun­cil to vote on chicken ban

Back­yard hens al­ready in Led­bury ahead of pi­lot pro­ject

Bayview Post - - News -

A pi­lot pro­ject that would al­low res­i­dents of four Toronto wards, in­clud­ing Ward 21, to raise hens in their back­yards was pro­posed at Toronto City Coun­cil last month. Coun­cil­lors have yet to vote on the mat­ter as it has been de­ferred un­til the fall.

In the city’s re­cent review of pro­hib­ited an­i­mals reg­u­la­tions, staff rec­om­mended that chick­ens re­main on the list due to con­cerns that they may pose a risk to pub­lic health and safety, could cause pub­lic nui­sance prob­lems and may not be prop­erly cared for. How­ever, sur­vey find­ings and re­search for the review found that, when re­spon­dents were asked which an­i­mals should be taken off the banned list, “chick­ens” was the most fre­quent an­swer.

Lea­side res­i­dent An­drew Pa­tel and his twin brother Matthew have kept hens for years, de­spite the fact that they are on the City of Toronto’s Pro­hib­ited An­i­mals List.

Pa­tel said he’s grad­u­ally seen city coun­cil­lors em­brace the prac­tice of rais­ing back­yard hens. But it has been a slow process.

“In 2012, coun­cil­lors were op­posed to it, in­clud­ing Ce­sar Pala­cio [of Ward 17, Daven­port]. Now he’s ac­tu­ally brought for­ward the mo­tion, so we are see­ing coun­cil­lors in­form­ing them­selves and slowly ac­cept­ing this move­ment.…” he said.

The cur­rent fine for keep­ing a pro­hib­ited an­i­mal is $240, and en­force­ment is com­plaint based.

Post City also spoke with a res­i­dent rais­ing chick­ens in the back­yard of his Led­bury home, who asked to re­main anony­mous.

He said, al­though he ap­pre­ci­ates the fresh­ness of the eggs the hens pro­duce, the ex­pe­ri­ence has alerted him to the ob­sta­cles of an­i­mal hus­bandry in the city.

“If you have the chick­ens, you still have to have the space. You have to take care of them, and there’s still the is­sue of preda­tors [such as rac­coons],” he ex­plained.

Coun­cil­lor Joe Mi­hevc, of Ward 21, St. Paul’s, would like to see the pro­ject move for­ward to keep in step with a grow­ing move­ment to­ward ur­ban agri­cul­ture.

“Peo­ple want food that is closer to home, where they know its source, where they know it’s good qual­ity and … that the an­i­mal has been treated well,” said Mi­hevc.

The pro­posed pi­lot pro­ject in­cludes strict guide­lines par­tic­i­pants would have to abide by.

“I think the by­law would in it­self pro­vide a good frame­work for those in­ter­ested in keep­ing hens and set out min­i­mum stan­dards,” said Pa­tel.

The mo­tion was de­ferred due to the pass­ing of coun­cil­lor Pam McCon­nell and will be re­vis­ited when coun­cil re­con­venes in the fall.

An­drew Pa­tel has raised chick­ens il­le­gally in Lea­side for years

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