Windsor Star

City cracks down on urban chickens

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The clucking continues in Windsor’s urban chicken saga after bylaw officers cracked down on a backyard coop and a city councillor promised to bring the issue back to roost at city hall.

“ Our chickens are very healthy and happy animals. It doesn’t make sense to take them away. They’re not hurting anybody,” said Sarah Kacso, keeper of three hens behind her house on Hall Avenue.

On Thursday evening, a pair of bylaw officers visited Kacso’s home and told her that she had seven business days to move her chickens outside city limits or face penalties.

If she doesn’t comply, she’ll either be given a $125 ticket or summoned to court.

Once the matter is a court case, the fine can climb to a maximum of $5,000.

“We wouldn’t take the chickens. We don’t have a place to take them,” said Ann Kalinowski, manager of the city’s bylaw enforcemen­t department.

Kalinowski said the department was simply responding to a complaint from the public.

The issue has risen in profile over the past month. Kacso said she was expecting the bylaw department to contact her eventually, but she was still surprised to learn a neighbourh­ood resident complained about her coop.

“Maybe someone was feeling spiteful,” Kacso said. “We’re a little disappoint­ed that someone would choose to go that route.”

Kacso said her three hens — Buttercup, Buttons and Dolce — are quiet, clean and don’t wander.

Asked what she and her fiance Colin McMahon plan to do with the chickens, Kacso said they will be temporaril­y moved to a friend’s property in the county, in order to avoid a ticket or worse.

But that doesn’t mean Rose City Farms is giving up. “We are going to fight it,” Kacso said.

She is urging anyone concerned about the issue to attend city council’s meeting on Monday night, as a show of support for urban chickens.

Coun. Alan Halberstad­t has been in contact with Kacso and McMahon. Although city council voted earlier this month to indefinite­ly defer the matter, Halberstad­t said he’ll bring a motion on Monday that could lead to a study by the licensing commission.

“It’s basically to bring the whole issue back on the table,” Halberstad­t said.

The rule that prohibits keeping chickens in city limits is bylaw number 8156.

Under the bylaw, chickens are classified as “ domestic fowl,” and are lumped with animals such as horses, mules, cattle, goats, swine and sheep.

However, there are rules for other pets as well. Under the same section, the bylaw states that no Windsor resident shall keep more than two of any animal “not otherwise prohibited” — which would include dogs.

The only exception to the maximum-of-two rule are cats, of which you can have a maximum of four.

The bylaw also says you can’t keep guinea pigs without a suitable enclosure.

“Maybe it’s time to review the whole bylaw,” Halberstad­t said.

Meanwhile, Kacso has concerns about how her hens will be affected by their temporary relocation. “They’re used to living here with me. They know my voice, they follow me around.

“For them to be put somewhere else, with strange chickens and strange people — it is going to be stressful for them.”

Kacso is especially worried about Buttercup, the most docile of her coop.

Easily identifiab­le by the fluffy crest of feathers on her head, Buttercup is a “ bufflaced” bearded Polish chicken — an ornamental breed with roots in European royalty.

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