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Calgary council votes down backyard chicken pilot project

CALGARY – For the second time in five years, Calgary council rejected the idea of allowing people to raise egg-laying hens and now an urban chicken activist is threatening legal action against the city.

Councillors Ray Jones and Gian-Carlo Carra presented a motion at Monday’s meeting, saying there’s been interest from Calgarians, and suggested such urban chicken pilot programs have already been implemented in several Canadian cities, including Edmonton and Red Deer. Other councillors were concerned about noise, smell and potential for the spread of diseases.

READ MORE: Pilot project allows urban chickens in Red Deer

The motion was defeated Monday 9-6, and the Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub—or “Cluck”—says it’s outrageous that Calgary wouldn’t agree to try a pilot program to prove the science behind the idea.

“People realize we had a valid argument we presented science and we turned out backs on facts and that’s just not good governance,” said Paul Hughes, founder of Cluck. “This is 20 families, and this is a city addicted to pilot projects. We try pilot projects for everything, so here’s a great opportunity to pursue science.”

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It’s estimated there are up to 300 illegal coops in the city. Hughes said his group has worked hard on policies that promote cleanliness and most people don’t even know there are chickens next door.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it’s unfortunate council didn’t vote to try and regulate the chickens to make it safe for everybody.

“Council  had an opportunity to recognize what is actually going on, and figure out a way to regulate it and make it safe,” he said.

Hughes suggests the city allow the backyard coops in a limited area, allowing the hens a chance to prove themselves to be good neighbours.