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Chicken debate returns to roost

The debate about whether or not people should be allowed to raise chickens in their backyards may return to City Hall in the next few weeks.

Peter Woods, chair of the city’s Environmental Advisory Commission, wants the city to change its ways and allow urban chickens.

In January 2010, city council refused to take the commission’s suggestion to hold an open house to gauge the public’s interest in the idea and instead chose to wait until the city’s agriculture plan was complete to make any decisions. Woods says the plan is scheduled to be presented to the public tomorrow at City Hall and if there is no recommendation to allow backyard hens, the committee could bring the issue to council once again.

“We will be deciding what to do next after we hear the results of the agriculture plan on Thursday,” Woods says. “I hope to bring changes to the livestock bylaw so that citizens can legally and safely have hens in their own yards.”

He argues that backyard egg production is a step towards a sustainable Campbell River.

“Purchasing eggs from a supermarket that ships the eggs from places as far away as Toronto just doesn’t make ecological or economical sense,” Woods says. “The carbon footprint of transporting food is much greater than if you were to use your own land for such purposes.”

But council has voiced concerns over staff time including rescue associations and animal welfare agencies, impacts on neighbours and animal welfare. The advisory commission recognizes those concerns but also feels that backyard hens support the city’s green strategy.

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