Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cast your vote!

Every week we hear from Windsor-Essex residents who would like urban chickens to be legal.  When they ask us what they can do to help, we refer them to the online poll

If you haven't cast your vote yet, please do so!  This is a good way for us to know who you are, so we can keep you informed of new developments in the drive to legalize urban chickens.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Auto Body Shop Running Afowl of Windsor's Bylaws

If you live in Windsor, you've probably seen or heard about the chickens at the Formula 1 auto body shop.  And today, we learned that they have run "afowl" of the law.  The chickens will have to go.

I've known about those chickens for a long time, but since they live on a big property, I assumed it was zoned agricultural.

The bylaw states quite clearly that the restrictions against chickens don't apply to:
(5) any person who keeps animals in an agricultural area.
The owner says he's going to look into his legal options.  My advice would be to check his zoning.  The land used to be designated farm land, so it won't be difficult to determine its current status and then his legal options will be quite clear.

Read the story here:

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Vancouver Experience

Windsor and Essex councillors and other people who are afraid of chickens taking over the city streets might be interested in learning what happened in Vancouver since backyard poultry were legalized there in 2010.

At the time, I remember reading about controversial plans to build a $20,000 shelter to house stray birds.

Luckily for the taxpayers, the shelter was never built.  Turns out, it was a good thing too, because it hasn't been needed.  Only 2 birds ended up needing rehousing.  They were taken in by a local farm family who, just like us at our collective, were more than happy to take on a layer they didn't have to pay for.  Ten bucks saved is always a good thing, no?

Only about 100 Vancouver households ended up applying for chicken permits, and the number of complaints has been around 20 a year.

I suppose some might think it isn't worth changing the bylaw for 100 households, though I see it differently.   Even in Windsor, a much smaller city, there is good reason to believe there are many more than 100 households who believe everyone should be allowed to own chickens if they wish. No doubt the number of households who actually do it is much smaller, but the same probably holds true for the number of households with more than 2 dogs, now that the bylaw has been altered to allow 3.

I'd like to know more about those 20 complaints a year.  What was the rate before 2010, and how many of the complaints related to the 100 households with chicken permits?  Who knows, perhaps all of the complaints related to birds living on properties without permits, in which case they would have proved that residents had nothing at all to fear from people who simply wanted a legal coop and up to 4 hens in their backyards.

The details in the story are a little sketchy, but you can read it in the Vancouver Courier.

If you want to know more about the rules in Vancouver, you can read all about them on the city's website.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Are Collectives the way to go?

We believe every resident should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to own backyard hens, in exactly the same way Windsorites are entitled to decide for themselves whether to take on a dog (or three), a cat (or four), or even up to 80 pigeons.

However, we are also pragmatic.  It takes time to change bylaws.  While we are confident we will one day see hens return to Windsor, it won't happen overnight.  Did you know that 2012 was the year of the cooperative?  When we started our "clucktive" in 2011, we were ahead of the curve!

For some people, it might be a good option to join a cooperative that raises hens to produce free range eggs.  It has certain advantages:
  • It's an excellent place to start if you're not sure to what extent you want to commit yourself
  • It's a good place to learn the basics, especially if there are other members with more experience
  • Maybe you live in an apartment, or your property is otherwise unsuitable for a backyard coop
  • It can be more cost effective, because of the economies of operating on a larger scale
  • Sharing the responsibility of owning hens means you have more flexibility, for example, it can be easier to get away on weekends and vacations if there is someone else to cover coop duties during that time
  • The sense of community you can get from knowing other like-minded families is phenomenal.

As with all good things, there are also a couple of potential disadvantages:
  • A collaborative coop is likely to be larger than a backyard one, and will likely have more hens.  You may discover it's is not quite as idyllic as you imagined.
  • When it's your turn, you will likely have more work to do on your day.  There will be more poop to clean out, and more feed and water to supply.  This might prove challenging for people with disabilities
  • Organizing a collaborative involves an element of trust.  You would have to trust that each member does their share of the work, and you have to trust the person assigned to control the finances
  • You have to be prepared to make group decisions, and this could result in some members having to go along with opinions that they don't fully agree with.  For example, the group has to decide what kind of feed to purchase, and what to do if hens become sick.
  • Your cooperative might not be as close to your house as you would like it to be.  If it is in a remote area, you might have to consider security arrangements that wouldn't be an issue in your backyard.

For a city like Windsor, where urban chickens are not currently allowed, we think urban hen collaboratives would be a great first step.  Cooperatives of all kinds are a growing trend at the moment.   It's a model that works for some people, and it would be a good way for Windsor to take some first steps towards joining the growing urban ag movement that is sweeping through North America.

Chicken Collective on CBC

The CBC has picked up the story of urban chickens in the Windsor area today, and it is interesting to see how it has been framed.

They looked at it from a food security point of view, which is less sensational than what we saw two years ago.  Times have changed.   Many more people have started to think more seriously about where their food comes from.  Seeing frequent food recalls and contamination scares made many people want more insight into what goes on behind farm doors.  And since those doors are firmly locked from the public's eye, there are ever more people who want to take control over their food supply themselves.

Rather than eschewing eggs completely, many of us want to eat only free range eggs:  for their nutritional superiority, as well as the fact that free range hens get to live like nature intended them to.

When you buy eggs in the grocery store, the best you can hope for are eggs from free run chickens.

No eggs sold in our local grocery stores come from hens that go outside or that scratch in the ground.

It is most likely that all of them have been debeaked.

The CBC story picked up the fact that if you don't have a car, you cannot get eggs from free range chickens.  This means that low income people have a more limited range of choices when it comes to ethical eating.

While our goal is still to overturn the bylaw that prohibits the raising of poultry in the city, our experience with the collective has shown us that this is another effective way of keeping free range chickens.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both, which we will discuss in the next post.

In the meanwhile, if you didn't see the story earlier today, you can read it on the CBC website here.

The video clip is at the 6.40 min mark on the March 22 News at Six:

Please Voice Your Opinion! Vote Today!

Hey Friends! 

#UrbanHens back in the news! 

They love our CLUCK-tive!

Please vote on #CBCWINDSOR poll to allow 
an Inner City CLUCKTIVE!

The Story of an Egg

Watch 2013 Festival | The Story of an Egg on PBS. See more from PBS Online Film Festival.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Downtown Windsor Farmer's Market


It's approved! It's public! 

The Downtown Residents Association is very pleased to announce the located of the Downtown Farmers Market for the 2013 season will be Charles Clark Square Located between Chatham Street East and University Avenue East, midway between Goyeau and McDougall streets. Please share widely!

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.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Planting Seeds Of Change - Local Food Security Meeting

 Windsor Essex FOOD-NEWS


Join P2P at the Planting Seeds for Change forum to help promote and work toward a more sustainable food system for Windsor-Essex County residents.

TOPICS – the current health status of Windsor-Essex County residents, the Ontario Local Food Act, the impact poverty has on food insecurity and our community as a whole, current work being conducted by the Food Advocacy Network and policy strategies for Windsor-Essex County residents, and a panel will be discussing various topics related to food including charity versus food justice, and food as it relates to economic development.

P2P's Adam Vasey will be presenting and part of the panel discussion.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND? Key decision-makers and community stakeholders who can influence the development and implementation of food-related strategies and policies within their organizations and the community at large.


• Includes a health promoting, “Meet Smart” breakfast.

• Up to six people from your organization can attend.


By phone or email: Meghan Bolton

  519-258-2146   ext. 3200

Co-Sponsored by Go For Health Windsor-Essex, Food Matters, Pathway to Potential, City of Windsor, and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.