Crowing over chicken stand

Red Deer city council is being praised for exploring whether urban chickens will make life sunny-side-up for neighbours.

Red Deer city council is being praised for exploring whether urban chickens will make life sunny-side-up for neighbours.

Paul Hughes, national founder of Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK), applauded council’s decision on Tuesday that would see a pilot project being launched with the five to 10 existing operators.

He’s calling it as a breakthrough in municipal politics.

“We’re doing backflips across Canada right now,” said Hughes from Calgary on Wednesday.

Council also approved having the city formally gather public input — on top of the dozens of letters it’s already received from opponents and supporters of having live poultry in coops. A report, plus a proposed bylaw specific to urban chickens, will return to council within 12 months.

In early 2009, Hughes founded CLUCK and since then, it’s grown into 26 chapters across Canada. Adrienne and Everett Tetz launched the Red Deer chapter last fall after their hen-raising ventures became known in an Advocate article.

By agreeing to a pilot project, Hughes said that Red Deer council has essentially chosen “science, fact and due process over fear and fabrication.”

“Those of us who are raising chickens responsibly in an urban environment — know that it’s a legitimate way of adding local food to your diet, and it’s a safe way,” Hughes said. “No one from CLUCK wants to do something that is not healthy and not safe.”

His group went to Calgary city council with a 12-month pilot project proposal in mid-2010, but it was rejected.

Outside council chambers on Tuesday, Adrienne Tetz said she was glad council decided a pilot project would be a good idea.

“It’s also an opportunity to show people that it’s not going to be a problem and our neighbours are OK with it. But to do that in a formal way.”

Hughes had six hens that he was raising with his young son when he was ticketed almost two years ago. It’s illegal to have urban chickens in Calgary. The fine, which he hasn’t paid, is $200.

Calgary forbids raising livestock in most urban areas, but does have an exemption for pigeons.

He will go to court in two weeks to fight the ticket because he argues it’s a violation under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Hughes doesn’t have any chickens but said he’ll be getting new ones soon.

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