OPINION: Tough call

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In most situations, what we write here takes a side on a local issue. We can’t do that this week when talking about backyard chickens in urban areas in Chatham-Kent.

Council on May 27 voted in favour of a pilot project for a test run on allowing residents in rural residential and village residential parts of the municipality to have chickens. Just when and where that will take place remains undecided at this time.

We see the points for and against.

Given the price of groceries, including eggs, why not let a family have a few chickens – if they are properly contained within a backyard or a coop area – so they can have fresh eggs and save some money in the process?

Inflation coming out of the pandemic has been a killer. So too are the record profits enjoyed by too many of Canada’s grocery chains on the backs of Canadian families.

Proponents will say urban chicken ownership is common practice in many urban centres in Ontario. But this is where the other side comes into play.

Members of the Kent Federation of Agriculture are dead set against allowing backyard chickens. They say it could potentially cause the spread of disease and illness, such as avian flu. If that gets into a large-scale poultry facility, the results would be catastrophic for the producer. Entire populations might have to be culled, should that happen.

And in the middle are the people who have to regulate the urban chickens. PAWR (Pet and Wildlife Rescue) personnel and licensing officials will have to check in to make sure the fowl are being treated humanely, and at the same time are properly contained.

We do think the cost estimates if the concept goes municipal-wide are pretty high: nearly $90,000 for enforcement and $400,000 for coop inspections.

However, whatever the costs ultimately are, they should be borne by the chicken owners, and not other ratepayers.

There is no easy answer here. A test project makes the most sense.

At least there’s one thing we know about any urban chickens…they won’t be down in Tecumseh Park in Chatham putting the boots to people in the middle of the night, or capping them on King Street with pellet guns. Our teenagers seem to have that sad reality covered.

2 COMMENTS

  1. No one will save any money by keeping chickens, let’s be real. Feed, medicine, pens to keep them safe… to say nothing of labor there’s little chance of being able to get the price per egg lower than what you can buy them for at the store.

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