After the city council voted on whether to add birds like penguins and flamingos to the city’s prohibited animal list, another debate was sparked, and four Toronto wards are looking at possibly being permitted to keep chickens in their backyards if the city council votes in favour of this pilot project. Sorry, condo owners, only residents with ample outdoor space for chickens would be allowed to raise the animals. The council has already spent around two hours debating this subject, and many councillors have expressed that they will be supporting the project.
What this means for the specific wards in which the pilot would be launched is that residents would be allowed to keep up to four chickens – specifically hens – in their backyard as part of what Councillor Joe Mihevc says is a “very strong urban agricultural movement in the city.” The idea is that Toronto residents want to be able to know where their food is coming from, and allowing them to raise chickens in their backyard would certainly keep them close to the source.
Mayor John Tory’s office has shared that he is in favour of a pilot project in the designated wards. While there are many city councillors in favour of this pilot project and the health benefits of growing your own food, the project hasn’t come without criticism. Not only has Animal Rights Toronto voiced their disagreement with the project, but some Toronto councillors have voiced very real safety concerns that come with keeping livestock in your backyard.
The number one issue with this, especially in a city like Toronto, is the attraction of predators like raccoons and coyotes. This also raises the issue of the possible transmission of salmonella.
Aside from this, there are issues with keeping the pilot project within the given boundaries. Councillor Frances Nunziata, whose ward is not among those that will be part of the project, but is directly next to one of the selected wards, questioned what would happen if any of the chickens were to escape and cross into the neighbouring wards.
If you live in any of the Toronto wards listed below, soon you could be sharing your backyard with farm animals.
- Ward 5 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore)
- Ward 13 (Parkdale-High Park)
- Ward 21 (St. Paul’s)
- Ward 32 (Beaches-East York)
Feature photo courtesy Cowgirl Jules via Flickr.