URBAN GARDENER: Backyard chicken farmers: We know you’re out there

What Does New York City Have that Campbell River hasn’t got?

What Does New York City Have that Campbell River hasn’t got?

Legal chickens in their back yards…housed in coops on their fire escapes and on their roof tops – that’s what they’ve got.

And here we are in our pleasant seaside community housing potential criminals who are secretly raising chickens under bushes, in their basements or cooped up in derelict cars in order to avoid the fearful eye of the bylaw officer.

We know you’re out there…you residents of Willow Point and Campbellton and Quinsam Heights. You are forced to go undercover by your desire to have fresh eggs for morning breakfasts, gardens free of black slugs and destructive insects, pesticide free berries and veggies for your families plus plenty of droppings for the compost pile.

More than a year has passed since the city conducted public surveys and posted very specific questionnaires on the development plans for the communities. The question of support for backyard chickens received full support from participants except for the No Vote of a former mayor who confided in me that he thinks chickens are dirty. Perhaps, as a child, he was chased by a depraved chicken. On the other end of the stick another retired mayor secretly raised chickens for many years inside municipal borders and thinks the naysayer mayor is “crowing in the wind.”

The Agricultural Steering Committee, of which I am a member, will be coming forward to city council in late September to appeal for a poultry bylaw that will allow these cuddly cluckers to live life to the fullest. It will free their masters from the terrifying possibility of finding a bylaw officer checking under bushes and peering into basement windows.  A poultry bylaw will be a gift to the environmentally concerned residents when we can at last keep family birds with big benefits. Chickens have great personalities and are interesting to observe. They will joyfully eat and recycle all our kitchen waste, thereby reducing municipal organic waste. They provide insect control and contribute rich fertilizer for gardens and composters. They allow families to take control of their desire to “eat local” and become more food secure. And…best of all… the city’s support for a bylaw will allow Campbell River to join the ranks of Island municipalities with visionary ideals. Those include Victoria, Oak Bay, Metchosin, Esquimalt, Saanich, Langford, Duncan, Nanaimo and Port Alberni.