The Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK Canada) has recommended council make an amendment to the proposed Domestic Animal Control Bylaw.
A notice about the proposed bylaw was sent out by the Town for citizens to provide comments before the third and final reading scheduled for the June 8 meeting of council.
Paul Hughes, founder of CLUCK Canada, says the proposed bylaw is “deeply flawed” because the complete blanket ban on livestock makes it over-broad and the lack of science-based or evidence-based decision-making makes it arbitrary.
“It sets itself up for a nice little Charter challenge and I don’t think the Town of Eckville really is looking for that, we’re not looking for that,” said Hughes in a phone interview.
After a conversation with Jack Ramsden, Chief Administration Officer for the Town of Eckville, Hughes said CLUCK Canada presented a small amendment council can make to the proposed bylaw before it passes.
Hughes recommended amending Section 2.4, which allows pigeons, rabbits or pheasants to be kept outside in pens, to also include backyard hens.
“… Basically they will come in and confiscate whatever you have,” said Hughes of part of the proposed bylaw, “ like a little hen named Henrietta that your kid’s playing with and you get an egg from everyday is going to be impounded at the cost of other tax payers based on zero science.”
He added Ramsden wasn’t “able to present me with any facts around being a need at this time” during their conversation.
CLUCK Canada, which started in Calgary in 2008, are advocates of household food security and hens, says Hughes, are a huge part.
“There’s this other little backdrop going on right now called the COVID-19 pandemic and everybody around North America, around the world, is talking about food security issues,” Hughes said.
“We saw what happened with that initial little scare and how shelves became empty and it revealed the vulnerabilities of our food system.”
The group encourages growing your own vegetables in a garden for simple proteins, while backyard hens and their eggs can provide complex proteins.
“It’s something we can do on our properties quite easily, we’re not launching a space shuttle here.”
In over 500 cities in North America it is legal to have backyard hens, according to Hughes, and just because it’s legal doesn’t mean everyone in town is going to get hens.
“People who want dogs can have dogs [and] people who want cats can have cats, not everybody has a dog, not everybody has a cat,” commented Hughes. “Not everybody’s going to get a hen.”
He added the they ability to keep backyard hens will have almost no impact on people who don’t have hens or don’t want to.
Hughes explained it comes down to responsible pet ownership and acceptable regulations so people clean their coop on a regular basis.
CLUCK Canada has a number of different provisions they suggest to municipalities that he considers to be easy to implement.
“I think that people in Eckville who have hens or want hens are quite capable of that,” said Hughes, “… but you’re not going to see all kinds of people getting hens, we haven’t seen that yet.”
CLUCK Canada encourages citizens being impacted by proposed bylaw stand up for their right to food, said Hughes.
Comments in regard to the proposed Domestic Animal Control Bylaw must be submitted before noon on June 8.