Where we started
The concept of chickens in Winnipeg is definitely not anything new. In fact, prior to 1984, chickens were in lots of peoples yards. Before the exotic animal bylaw was enacted, if you didn’t raise your own chickens, you probably had a family in the neighbourhood that you could procure eggs from. Granted, back then, we probably didn’t know about the safe bio-security principles to follow in order to keep backyard flocks from contaminating each other, but for the most part, it was a system that worked.
Enter industrial agriculture. Small family farms surrounding Winnipeg “merge” with big agri-businesses, and now we have a huge industry that takes care of our food for us, so that we no longer need to worry about taking care of the animals that produce our food for us. Where does that leave the city resident that has 5-10 chickens in their yard? A dozen eggs at your local grocer in a clean, disease-free container.
Ron and Lillian Meister used to raise a small flock of chickens just a little south of the Perimeter up until 2003. Some neighbours complained, animal services had to step in and advise the Meisters to remove their chickens from the property. The Meisters brought the matter to city council’s property & development committee. The committee at that time voted against allowing that portion of Winnipeg to have chickens on their property.
In 2009, “backyard chickens” starts to become a hot topic, with the trend of seeking our a sustainable food system. “C.L.U.C.K” (the Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub) starts up in Calgary, Alberta by Paul Hughes, a food justice advocate. CLUCK chapters start popping up across the country, supporting Paul’s fundamentals about backyard chickens being a “food right” versus a “need”. The Winnipeg CLUCK group starts up in mid 2009 and gather’s a large crowd of like-minded individuals. At this time, city council hasn’t been address by CLUCK yet.
Darby and Kara Jones are slowly building an urban homestead in St.Boniface. Darby investigates protein sources, realizes chickens are contraband, and In 2010, “Chickens4WinnipEGGers” is formed. With lots of public backing, and with councillor Vandal pushing the motion forward, Darby Jones and Stephanie Fulford address city council’s property & development committee again. Due to a lack in dispelling pre-conceived myths, the matter’s voted against allowing chickens in Winnipeg.
Our new torch bearer, Natalie Carreiro joined Chickens4WinnipEGGers 8 months ago. She’s been emailing and calling all of the city councillors, and she currently eats, drinks and sleeps “chickens”. Harvey Smith with the aid of Jenny Gerbasi brought the motion forward again to have backyard chickens talked about within city council. And so…
Where we are now
1. We have the support of a council member (Councillor Smith)
2. We have the support of a second council member (Councillor Eadie), which allowed us to request for a change to the current by law.
3. The motion to review the by-law was carried forward as of Oct. 29th, 2012 for further consideration at the next level – the Executive Policy Meeting (EPC).
4. The motion was carried Nov.7th at EPC, so Animal Protection Services will do some research (consult with C4W,UofM Agriculture, Industrial egg farming industries, etc.) and then present a report with recommendations to EPC members with advice on how they think our Councillors should proceed. This report will be a part of a completely revised Animal Welfare By-Law.
So, what does this mean for us?
We are going to compile all of the research we have uncovered to date (presented Nov. 7th @EPC) into a document, to supplement the document provided by Animal Services.
Step 4 is not going to be accomplished quickly, but we are a step closer. We will likely be putting a call out for letters of support, etc. so keep checking the facebook group for updates