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Toronto city council approves pilot project allowing backyard chickens

Advocates say it's about time - many around the city have been raising chickens secretly already. Mark Carcasole reports.

Toronto city council has voted in favour of launching a three-year pilot project to explore the viability of allowing residents to raise chickens in their backyards.

Despite many councillors debating the urgency of such a subject amid bigger issues like city gridlock and transit funding, the two-day debate ended with a 23 to 14 vote in favour of going forward with the pilot.

Four wards will make up the test area and include Etobicoke-Lakeshore (Ward 5), Parkdale-High Park (Ward 13),  St. Paul’s (Ward 21) and the Beaches-East York (Ward 32).

LISTEN: Founder of torontochickens.com tells AM640 there are many misconceptions of raising chickens.

Participants will be required to register with the city and can own up to four hens as long as they possess a residential property with sufficient outdoor space. Eggs produced can only be for personal consumption, with sales prohibited, and the hens must remain on the owner’s property. Ownership of roosters will not be allowed.

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READ MORE: Toronto considers lifting ban on backyard chickens

The proposal was part of a city review of prohibited animals, which included chickens.

During the debate, councillors opposed to the idea argued the pilot would tie up bylaw officers and create health and safety issues. Don Valley West’s Jaye Robinson pointed to a recent report from city staff suggesting that backyard chickens were not a good idea due to issues involving “health and safety, public nuisance and animal welfare.”

LISTEN: Ward 21 Coun. Joe Mihevc joins Kelly Cutrara on AM640

A previous city staff report in May suggested that lifting a ban on chickens might be popular with constituents in several ridings.

Ward 5 Coun. Justin Di Ciano told AM 640 in July that chickens can provide benefits beyond just fresh eggs, such as providing fertilizer, in additon to reducing bug infestations and food waste.

Brampton, Kingston, Caledon, and Niagara Falls are some of the other Ontario cities that currently permit residents to own chickens.

WATCH: Backyard chickens could be banned in Peterborough after council voted down a report recommending the city adopt a new b-law allowing them

Chicken council
Chicken council