For years, a certain subset of Chilliwack’s residents have been pushing the City to allow them to legally keep chickens in their backyards without much movement. But with the city’s civic election on the horizon, efforts have been kicked up a notch to garner enough community support to convince the next council that urban chickens are a safe bet for our community.
“This is (the perfect) opportunity to learn what the candidates think about backyard chickens and urban agriculture,” said said Eryne Croquet, who’s been actively pushing for chickens in Chilliwack for years.
“It is also a time when we can easily meet to engage in a dialogue about backyard chickens, urban land uses, and zoning restrictions.
“Backyard chickens are a simple means for families to connect with food and agriculture,” continued Croquet. And because “agriculture is a key industry in Chilliwack, keeping backyard chickens is an excellent means to introduce farming to people who may not otherwise have that opportunity.
“I learned (this summer) that a key for convincing council that this is an important issue is to demonstrate a community of people who support backyard chickens,” wrote Eryne Croquet on the Support for Backyard Chickens in Chilliwack Facebook page. “A simple method to achieve that is to circulate a petition and get some signatures.
“It’s important for people to show their support because it tells the City of Chilliwack that people want backyard hens, that this issue will not go away, and that it’s not a small number or niche group of people who want to see the bylaws revised,” said Croquet.
So with that in mind, she says she’s been diligently working all summer to collect supportive signatures, both on paper and online, to present to council once they reconvene this fall.
They make good pets, says the chicken activist, and are a good animal for children to learn about and raise, they may satisfies the food security concerns of some, can reduce the amount of green waste in our waste-management systems, and can help control unwanted pests like (mosquitoes and) stink bugs.”
However, the issues the City has with chickens are more focused on their effect on the local chicken-farming industry, especially in regards to disease transmission and the attraction of vermin to coops.
Yet supporters say development brings as much vermin as chickens do, and that a well-cleaned and organized coop is no worse than having a dog run in your yard. They also point out that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency supports backyard flocks, and have even published a how-to guide for protecting one’s birds against avian influenza, which “is easily avoided in small flocks.”
“We have been holding regular organizational meetings in support of backyard chickens (for a while now,” continued Croquet. “(And) we have invited several of the candidates in the upcoming municipal election to attend those meetings to discuss urban agriculture, backyard chickens, and municipal politics.
Armed with this information, and maybe a hen or two, Croquet says she’s booked a booth at the Aug. 15 Sardis Eco Market so members of the community can sign the petition for urban chicken coop acceptance, or learn more about what the fight is all about.
“We’ll be there for the whole evening … to engage with people,” Croquet explained. “(And) the petition will be there for people to sign, and there might be a Serama hen there so people can learn about hens and see one first hand.
“I’ll also have some information handouts and I’m always willing to chat chickens with people,” she added.
For more information on the push for backyard chickens, Croquet urges please join the Facebook page, or email her at Chilliwack.Chickens@gmail.com. To add your name to the online petition, please visit SurveyMonkey.com/r/SQPZLDK. The next backyard chicken meeting will be at 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 16, at Decades Coffee Club (45846 Wellington Ave.).