Thursday, February 21, 2013

Responsible Residents

In a unanimous decision, Windsor City Council decided this week to increase the number of dogs residents may own.  Whereas the limit was previously 2 pooches, they may now house a third one.

Windsorites really love their canine pets, though the decision wasn't entirely uncontroversial.  Some people worry that this will increase the number of bylaw infractions, or that irresponsible people will use the new rules to justify owning more dogs than the size of their property - or apartment - can realistically handle.

You may be wondering how this relates to backyard chickens.

When Council previously looked at the question of chickens, Ward 6 Councillor Gignac based her no-vote on the concern that while most residents would be responsible, others might not be.

As it happens, when it comes to dogs, Ward 3 Councillor Fulvio Valentinis (another chicken naysayer, as it happens) opined this week that “mostly responsible people will be seeking a third dog.”

Incidentally, it was Councillor Valentinis who thought Windsor isn't well suited to backyard chickens.  We're still scratching our heads as to what it is about Windsor that sets it apart.  Perhaps he was referring to the rat issue in downtown Windsor.  Or might he be referring to small downtown lots in the ward that he represents?  If so, it might be a good idea to use the same reasoning that he applied to dog ownership.  

Just as nobody has to own three dogs, nobody is calling for chickens in every yard.  Experience in other cities shows that backyard chicken ownership, while a fast growing movement, is likely to be popular with only a minority of residents. 

Responsible people will weigh up the pros and cons before going ahead and taking on animals, whether they be dogs or chickens.  Just as very small yards are not ideal for large dogs, they also might not be ideal for chickens.  Similarly, people living in areas with urban rat infestations might also want to think twice.

But that shouldn't mean everybody in Windsor should be restricted in their animal ownership choices.  It's a positive move that Council unanimously voted to give us the authority to make responsible choices for ourselves.  They trust us to make choices that won't negatively impact our neighbours.  

In the same way, I hope Council, in time, will extend this thinking to those of us wishing to own 3 to 4 chickens, so we can eat eggs from our own backyards.

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Please keep the Windsor urban chicken discussion going! We love to 'read your constructive comments.