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Mixed Reactions as Chickens Return to Vancouver

by 5m Editor
6 March 2009, at 6:08a.m.

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA - Vancouver is the latest municipality to allow urban chickens, following the end of a ban on poultry in the city. Welfare groups had opposed the lifting of the ban.

Dane Chauvel kept his chickens in his Kitsilano backyard for about a decade before he got in trouble for infringing on city bylaws, according to an article in Vancouver Sun. He says he will bring them back to their coop if the city moves to allow urban chickens, which it did yesterday (5 March).

Now living in exile in Langley, the two birds will soon be legally allowed back in their coop in Mr Chauvel's Kitsilano backyard after Vancouver city council voted unanimously to change city bylaws to legalise the keeping of urban hens.

"I think they're probably dying to come home," Mr Chauvel said.

He explained that his family had three birds in their Kitsilano backyard for about a decade, despite bylaws forbidding the keeping of chickens in the city.

"They were friendly, innocuous, they really didn't bother anybody, and they produced eggs," he said. "My kids at the time were six and eight, or eight and 10. They named the birds and they kind of bridged being pets and livestock."

But one day, a bylaw officer called and he ended up in court twice, fighting for his birds – two of which, he argued, were not chickens at all but a type of exotic bird.

"The first time I lost, the second time I won, but it was just becoming too much of a hassle for my wife," he said.

So the birds went out to pasture at a Langley farm. One has since died, but Mr Chauvel says he is eager to bring the other two home.

He will have to wait a few months, while city staff amend the city's bylaws and draft guidelines on how to keep the bids safely and humanely.

With the motion, moved by Councillor Andrea Reimer, Vancouver is the latest municipality to jump on the urban chicken bandwagon. New York City, Seattle, Portland, Victoria, Burnaby and Richmond all allow backyard hens in some way or another.

Not everyone in British Columbia is enthusiastic about the keeping of backyard hens, according to the Vancouver Sun article. The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) and the Vancouver Humane Society both spoke against the motion.