Wednesday night I was at the City of Regina’s consultation for the livestock bylaw that bans urban chickens in Regina. Turns out that it was legal prior to a year ago because the Health region was overlooking that aspect of public health, but dropped enforcement due to budgetary reasons. The city’s enforcement branch took it upon themselves to recommend council pass a bylaw, without broad public support being established through consultation with the public. Even though 4 people showed up tonight, all opposed to all or parts of the bylaw, a “lack of public support” for removing the restrictions on some livestock may not be recommended to council by the bylaw enforcement manager writing the report. Going by public support, we shouldn’t have this law in the first place, except council failed to gauge public opinion or look at other urbans like Vancouver and New York who permit chickens. Calgary’s bylaw is going unenforced after its first test was dropped by the city bylaw prosecutor there.
Every reason the city representative gave for having the law in place, I had a counterargument for. “There could be bird flu” – We have West Nile already, people have pet birds still, unlicensed (unless they are pigeons, which need a free license, apparently). “People could buy food from farms around Regina” – People could raise their own food and cut out the middle man to save money. “People won’t accept urban chickens or miniature pigs” – People have accepted animals in cities since the dawn of urbanization following the dawn of agriculture. Regina allowed livestock on the outskirts, and chickens on College Ave. during time periods when much of the city’s older population was living.
My central point I tried to stress is that the law prohibits people from doing something natural, and normal in many cities of the world, which is raising a few animals for food security. It’s not backward or primitive to allow it, it’s simply good sense to be prepared for a food shortage. There are plenty of other bylaws available to prevent cows or puppy mills in backyards, and it’s short sighted to ban chickens, rabbits, and other small livestock or pets.
I’ll have more on this later.