Urban chicken supporters should have nothing to crow about after a steady flow of ‘pro-chicken’ residents flocked to a Mountview backyard chicken coop on Sunday.
Joel and Kristina Smith opened their coop to the community ahead of city council’s viewing of a report on how best to allow Red Deer residents to keep egg-laying hens in their backyards.
Adrienne Tetz of the Red Deer chapter of Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK) said the “open coop” was organized to allow the public to view an urban chicken coop and to dispel any misconceptions they may have about chickens.
About 60 people from the city and Central Alberta took a glimpse inside the chicken coop where the Smiths raise four hens.
Most said they supported either a bylaw or licensing to permit egg laying hens in backyards.
Kyle Lawrence, 23, said allowing chickens in backyard settings is good thing because it helps people connect back with agriculture.
“There’s such a disconnect that people don’t realize anymore that food comes farms,” said Lawrence, who raises heritage breed chickens in Pine Lake. “Kids believe food comes from grocery stores. It helps understand that food isn’t cheap to produce and what you put into it is what you get.”
Steven Vincent, 25, said there should be rules in place for having the animals just like you would for a dog or a cat.
Deborah Van Delden of Anders is considering constructing a coop in her backyard after seeing the Smith’s setup.
City councillors were also given an invitation to the backyard affair.
“Unless somebody can show me why we shouldn’t do it, I don’t see why we shouldn’t allowing people have chickens,” said Mayor Morris Flewwelling, who lives in the neighbourhood.
Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said she is open to allowing chickens in backyards but she still has a lot of questions that need to be answered such as the number of chickens permitted and complaint processes for neighbours.
“I wrestle with it because when we talk about sustainability, we can’t say no to growing our own food,” said Wyntjes. “We have to look seriously at this.”
Wyntjes said she salutes the people who are doing this because she understands how tasty a fresh egg is but right now she will go to a grocery store to get hers.
Red Deer city council will review the report which will include options such as licensing urban chickens and allowing chickens under the land-use bylaw before deciding its next step on Feb. 21.
The chicken issue came to light last fall after the Advocate published a story about urban chicken farmers, Adrienne and Everett Tetz, who raise chickens in the backyard of their Mountview home. The Smiths got their chickens from the Tetzes.
The story prompted city council to look into whether chickens should be allowed in backyards.