After much debate about backyard chickens in Saskatoon, some city councillors still aren’t cracking.
On Monday, a proposed pilot project for urban chickens was shot down during a city council committee meeting and is the third if not fourth time some councillors have addressed this issue.
“I’ve heard loud and clear from the residents in my ward that they don’t want this,” Ward 9 councillor Bev Dubois said.
The pilot project put forth by the Saskatoon Bridge City Chickens (SBCC) has unintentionally ruffled a lot of feathers.
A proposal by the group would allow 30 city dwellers in Saskatoon to have three to five backyard hens for an 18-month period but their request was defeated in a tie.
Councillors Darren Hill, Troy Davies and Bev Dubois were all opposed to the pilot. Whereas his worship Charlie Clark and councillors Zach Jeffries and Hilary Gough were in favour of the egg-laying hens.
“We knew that there were people on this particular committee that were not in favour and not likely to change their mind,” Dr. Wanda Martin, spokesperson for SBCC and nursing professor at the University of Saskatchewan, said.
“However, we thought with a good strong proposal that perhaps we might be able to sway one of them at least.”
It’s a missed opportunity to enhance local food security and teach children about where food comes from said Martin, who was disappointed by the outcome but not surprised that the idea of backyard chickens won’t fly in Saskatoon.
“A lot of people are opposed to the industrial style of raising chickens,” Martin said, which is nothing like what they’re proposing.
“It’s about neighbours being able to chat across the backyard and just enjoy having these birds.”
When asked about concerns over the scent these chicken coops would give off, Martin had this to say.
“Have you walked past some of the yards lately where they have dogs and people haven’t cleaned up their dog stuff?” she said.
“If you don’t look after things on a regular basis – animals will smell, my cat litter box smells if I don’t clean it up regularly so the idea is you clean it the same as you clean anything else.”
Raised on a farm, Hill acknowledged the merits of having chickens after raising them as a child but still said no to the idea.
“Introducing another component of livestock or animals, we already struggle with cats and dogs and bad owners of those pets,” Hill said.
“Saying that we’re going to have responsible chicken owners that’s great to say but it’s not going to be the case – we’re going to have those same issues that we have with cats and dogs.”
The driving force behind this decision, residents who wanted the plans plucked.
Hill says he took to social media to invite people to email him with their opinion and hundreds of emails later it was a 60/40 split with the majority of people objecting to the pilot.
“I heard very loud and clear that the majority of citizens do not want to see chickens introduced into the urban setting in this city.”
Still, the idea is not completely grounded said Hill – it could come before council as a notice of motion by a councillor in favour.