Chickens have been on my mind a lot lately; specifically, the ability to raise chickens. Right now the Whitehorse animal by-law doesn’t allow poultry to be raised in other than country residential areas. So I sent a note off to Mayor and Council and almost immediately got a reply back from the Mayor, saying I posed an interesting question and she was sending my letter to Administration to do some background research. Below is part of my email. Once you’ve read it, I’d be interested in your thoughts: should people be allowed to raise chickens in Whitehorse?
Hello. I am writing to you with a question about the city’s animal by-law. Currently the by-law limits the keeping of chickens to those living in country residential areas. In light of such important issues as sustainability, self-sufficiency and locally grown food, I’m wondering if there is any appetite to re-visit this section of the by-law.
I have a large back yard and am interested in raising up to six chickens (no roosters). My neighbours on both sides of me are very supportive of this; in fact one of the neighbours is also interested in raising a few chickens. I believe there is a growing desire among Whitehorse citizens to find ways of decreasing our carbon footprint and increasing options for organic, locally grown food. I believe current mega-farming practices are proving to be unsustainable in the long term, and small scale agriculture, including urban gardens and backyard poultry raising, is part of a critical shift that needs to take place if we are to ensure our food is safe, healthy, and raised in a way that doesn’t rape the environment.
Certainly there are many major cities in North America that allow homeowners to keep a small number of chickens, including Vancouver, Victoria, London (Ontario), Niagra Falls (Ontario), New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Houston and San Francisco. One example closer to home is Nelson, B.C.
Please advise as to whether this is something you would be willing to entertain. By the way, I do believe that before anyone should be allowed to raise chickens, they should be required to take some kind of animal husbandry course to ensure proper care of the birds. They must also have, of course, sufficient square footage to keep their chickens.