“Develop regionally”: Yard hens can be a blessing for residents, says Aurora legal professional
Darryl Moore tries to convince Aurora to let the chicken coops in, as Newmarket is already doing
The “Shop Local” movement is in full swing as we endure a second lockdown, but there is another movement that a resident should take to heart: grow locally – at least when it comes to eggs.
That was the message the Aurora resident got from Darryl Moore last week. Moore, a long-time proponent of the ability to keep backyard hens in Aurora, said it could pave the way for not only home-grown food in the form of eggs, but also pets to go that route and enact the statutes necessary to to achieve this, camaraderie and even educational opportunities.
“These are small things, but they are important,” said Moore. “I know I have autistic children, and animals are a very good thing for them, and chickens work very well that way. In addition, people learn where their food comes from. “
This isn’t the first time the council is considering a backyard chicken program, but previous efforts have focused on the issues of odor, noise, and the potential for attraction of predators to the neighborhood.
Moore addressed these issues point by point, claiming that backyard hens have no greater impact on odor than dogs, cats, or other conventional pets, and that odors can be easily mitigated. As for the noise, roosters would be the main culprit and would fall outside of any backyard chicken program.
The predator theme, however, was less straightforward.
“It depends where you live,” said Moore. “Where I live on Victoria Street, wolves and coyotes aren’t a big problem. They could be next to a ravine. It is easy enough to pin the coops up so it’s not a huge problem and you can fasten them as tightly as you need to, depending on the types of predators you can expect. Chickens are at the end of the food chain, so animals will want to eat them, but it’s easy enough to take care of. “
The impact of backyard hens on property values is more difficult to assess, but research and discussions with real estate agents show that it is minimal.
“The main problem is people’s perception,” he said. “Real estate value is a perception. It’s not really there because there isn’t a problem – people often don’t notice the chickens. Everyone has the right to get the most out of their property, and that’s probably the thing that comes up: you don’t want the nuisance of a chicken next door. There is a lot of interest in backyard hens in this town and I really hope that given the experience other communities have had, including the one right next door, we can act quickly and based on knowledge and develop a pilot to start and then from there move. “
If Aurora started a backyard chicken program, they wouldn’t be reinventing the wheel. Similar programs have been piloted in the city of Toronto, while the city of Newmarket has incorporated provisions in its statutes that require only a permit from the city, with some restrictions attached to the size of the yard.
Moore’s pitch was received by the council mixed.
One lawmaker signaling tentative support was Councilor Rachel Gilliland, who questioned the best way to get a pilot up and running. While the earliest application can be made in February, there is a lot to consider.
“It seems that there is an appetite and other communities have taken this step,” she said. “Maybe there is some space to promote this idea and something that we can implement here.”
Less enthusiastic, however, was Councilor Harold Kim, who said he could not support the idea “at this point”.
“It’s not because I don’t necessarily agree with your project, because it’s certainly remarkable… but that reminds me when some council members, including the then mayor, presented the transparent garbage bags [initiative]. It was a very worthy project to move forward, but do we have public and public acceptance? They also inherited an intrinsic right to enjoy their property. While everything you say may be scientifically correct, it is about convincing everyone around you and that is a huge problem and challenge for me. I guess it’s only a matter of time.
“It’s about convincing our neighbors and our community members to take it over. It is not necessarily an overcoming [of] the fears of coyotes or salmonella … although we have all the facts on the presentation. It’s about convincing the general public. For these reasons, it will be a challenge for me to sponsor it. “
Brock Weir is a federally funded reporter for the Local Journalism Initiative at The Auroran