Chickens cause a flap at city council

Green Party Leader Kristina Calhoun is brooding over more than the election these days. She's trying to find a new home for 12 backyard chickens.

Green Party Leader Kristina Calhoun is brooding over more than the election these days.

She’s trying to find a new home for 12 backyard chickens.

The Riverdale resident was ordered to get rid of her birds by a bylaw officer last week.

The chickens – an expensive heritage breed – must be off her property by September 28.

But Calhoun doesn’t know what the flap is about.

She attended council on September 6 after a neighbour complained about the birds.

Most of her neighbours enjoy the birds, she told politicians.

The noise complaints from her six male roosters would have been solved very soon, she said.

“The plan was to butcher the boys when they hit maturity,” she said, explaining the chickens are just over three months old.

Calhoun approached council on the advice of a city worker.

“They told me to drum up as much support as I could,” she said.

But councillors never decided on anything at that meeting.

Calhoun did receive a message from Dave Prudan, head of bylaw services, when her story started generating news.

“He told me that he would put my file on hold,” she said.

Bylaw would allow her to keep the chickens until the city held a public consultation on the issue.

“That way, I wouldn’t have to get rid of the chickens and then a couple months later have a public consultation that would say it’s OK,” said Calhoun.

“It’s something I appreciated.”

Planners even offered to work with Calhoun, using her birds as a pilot project to study the issue of backyard chickens, she said.

Last Wednesday that changed. Bylaw ordered them gone.

The city never promised to put her file on hold indefinitely, said Prudan.

“I contacted (Calhoun) and left a message about putting the file on hold because it was going to council,” he said.

“All it was to be put on hold for was a few days.”

Because councillors didn’t vote on the issue, bylaw was told to bring her into compliance.

Calhoun pleaded her case on Monday.

Councillors didn’t budge.

“They just repeated again that I needed to be in compliance,” she said.

“There are some councillors that are completely close-minded.”

Calhoun won’t kill her feathered friends. They’re a month away from laying eggs, she said.

She’ll board the chickens with a farmer who lives out of town.

After the election, she’ll try to get the city to hold another pilot project, she said.

It has been “frustrating,” she said.

“To me, this is literally taking food out of my family’s mouths and money out of our pockets,” said Calhoun.

It’s a lot of fuss over nothing.

“In my role campaigning I’ve been talking to a couple hundred people and literally only two people have said they’re not for (backyard chickens).”

Contact Vivian Belik at

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