City of Toronto looking at proposal to ban feeding pigeons

Pigeons in Toronto near the Mimico waterfront on July 14, 2021. Alex Rodrigues

Toronto is set to consider banning the feeding of pigeons across the city.

A motion proposed by Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam seeks to prohibit the feeding of the birds in public and private spaces.

In her motion — which was to be reviewed by city council at a multi-day meeting that began Wednesday — Wong-Tam cited excessive pigeon droppings, social annoyance, property damage and the attraction of rats through discarded food scraps as reasons for the proposed ban.

“Those feeding Toronto’s pigeons may not be conscious of the adverse implications and unintended consequences resulting from their well-intended behaviour,” the motion states.

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“Large flocks of birds in public and private spaces create harmful nuisance because they interfere with the enjoyment and use of public and private property.”

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Sidewalks, plazas and laneways in Toronto have become “overwhelmingly inundated” with pigeons that continue to be attracted to those spaces because of food scattered by residents, the motion states.

“In addition to the issues of social annoyance, excessive pigeon droppings from hundreds of birds concentrated in small areas can create unhealthy and unsanitary conditions,” the document adds.

The city already has a bylaw that bans feeding or attempting to feed wildlife in parks but that ban does not apply outside those green spaces. Wong-Tam argued in her motion that the existing bylaw has not been actively enforced.

Pigeons in Toronto near the Mimico waterfront on July 14, 2021. Alex Rodrigues

“The lack of active and ongoing enforcement has rendered scarce green space as unusable. This is especially difficult to accept in densely populated neighbourhoods where such well-maintained and accessible parkland is desperately needed by Toronto families,” Wong-Tam said in the motion.

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The motion recommends the municipal licensing and standards executive director report back to council next March on a possible pigeon-feeding ban.

That report would include exploring the feasibility of prohibiting pigeon-feeding in all public and private spaces in the city, and look at what kind of requirements would be needed to begin a “rapid-response investigation and enforcement” to prioritize any 311 complaints about pigeon feeding.

Another point the executive director would have to address, if the motion passes, would be consultations with Toronto Public Health while developing health and safety strategies “to address unsanitary conditions due to excessive amounts of droppings when pigeons are gathered in large numbers.”

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