Animal advocate rejects city chickens scheme

Post by Mike Klassen in


Coun. Heather Deal trots out the talking points on why we need chickens

GlobalTV's Linda Aylesworth reported on the "great chicken debate" that is quickly making Vancouver a punchline for stand-up routines. She gets two talking heads in her piece – a politician who rattles off buzz phrases like hundred mile diet & food security, and a plain-speaking animal lover. Somehow, Coun. Heather Deal doesn't stand a chance against a straight shooter like Jim Petersen of Maplewood Farm.

As Petersen states in the story, "unless I had a working farm, I wouldn't have [chickens] in the city, personally."

How about that? Jim used the "C" word, as in city, as in that's where we live. Not the other C word – country – which is where Vision Vancouver want us all to move as part of their plans for systemic social change.

Council will vote to approve the city's chicken policy, along with its plan for a $20,000 shelter for homeless fowl, this Thursday.


This insane scheme will surely come to roost on Mayor Robertson and his silly 'Mother Earth' retro crowd of followers who want to remake Vancouver into their self-involved image of a crunchy granola, brave new world of collectivized farming. When will they stop braying from the rooftops about Vancouver being the "world's greenest city"?

Whether its a bee farm or backyard chickens, Vision's policies are not policies. Rather, this party is only interested in superficial expressions. A bee farm or vegetable garden at city hall does as much for the environment as erecting a statue of baby seals and claiming you are actually doing something that benefits people.

Just think of all the hygiene problems and the smell of chickens being raised next door to your overpriced Vancouver home or condo. Sure, Vision can always enlist some expert to blithely state how easy it is to raise chickens. But, just think about the reality.

And the reality, if you were to read a recent feature in the Globe & Mail, is that Calgary is far greener than Vancouver. It's hard for the lefties to accept that you need money (through tax revenues) to launch and maintain green initiatives and policies throughout the city. Healthy businesses can afford green. For any of you who have travelled to places like Calgary, Sante Fe or San Diego, Vancouver is no better than San Diego. But, you don't hear San Diego constantly insisting it's self-righteous credentials.

Unfortunately, this mayor and Vision are only capable of symbolic expressions and mediocre spin. Their entire purpose is to appear effective without really doing anything. Style over substance.

I know I should leave this story alone, but it reminds me of one of my first year School of Architecture design lessons, when Professor Alan Bernholtz asked one of my classmates why he had such a large. expensive overhang over a very large west facing window. The student replied it was to shade the which point the professor asked why not just eliminate the window, noting it wasn't really needed in the room. Furthermore, by removing the window, the room would be much more furnishable.

My problem with this whole initiative is that it seemed like a catchy idea in the spirit of 'urban agriculture' and the greening of the city, until one starts to think it all the way through...and the more one examines it, in a very pragmatic way, the greater the number of new issues to be addressed.

I just wish all of these issues had been thought through at the beginning, before the 'announcement' of the program. But sadly, that is not the way we make policy in Canadian politics.

For me, the final straw was the $20,000 'shelter for abandoned chickens'... for a few reasons. Firstly, I seriously question whether it can be built for $20,000 dollars. It's hard to build anything in Vancouver for $20,000. (A 500 square foot laneway house is coming in at $220,000 plus or minus.) Does this budget includes sprinklers? It should. I can see it being a target for arsonists.

Will it be staffed? Who pays for the staffing? Is that included in the $20,000? Of course not.

Miro Cernetig over at the Vancouver Sun decided in a recent front page column that this was a reasonable idea, worth taking a the Burrard Bridge bike trials. But he proposed a licensing fee to offset the costs of operating the program and building the shelter. Ok, for those in favour of the program, that seems reasonable. Until you start to examine his idea in a bit more depth. What will be the licensing fee? Will the fees cover the additional staff costs associated with setting up the licensing fee program? Or will they discourage people from keeping chickens?

The more questions one asks, the more issues that seem unanswered.

Again, as Professor Bernholtz might ask. Why not just remove the window?

MG: "Why not just remove the window?"

Truth: We don't need windows. Nobody needs windows...especially if you look at a space for functionality and nothing more. However windows provide natural light and most people like that.

Why do I now have the "Super Chicken" theme song running through my head?

Super Chicken for Mayor! Super Chicken for Fire Chief!

Now, there's a hero we can believe in.

My Grandmother had chickens in her little backyard and she lived in the city and it worked well.

I think what makes things so "stand up comedish" is that a lot of opponents try to make fun of it because they don't understand or see the value in this.

Community Gardens are thriving and so why not add chickens? Traditionally people did keep (farm) animals in the city and bringing people closer to their food is not a bad idea.

Like with everything "new" there will be problems, but I really wish the political landscape in Canada would try to be constructive instead of divisive we could actually move the country foward.

But hey, why would there be any desire (on either side) to do this? Harper has shown repeatedly that being AGAINST something and talking tough is all you need to get the masses to follow you.

Check out!

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