Will Vancouver allow residents to keep backyard chickens?

Victorians do it. New Yorkers do it. Seattleites do it. Will Vancouver be the next city to allow chickens to roost in its backyards?

Tomorrow (January 14), the Vancouver Food Policy Council will consider a motion to recommend changes to the city’s animal control bylaws that would make it legal for residents to keep chickens.

The motion will be introduced by Trish Kelly, the council’s cochair, a food activist, and the coeditor of the lesbian erotica collection With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn.

A move to legalize backyard coops is in line with the City of Vancouver’s commitments to sustainability, community development, and food security, according to the motion.

I have had two experiences with urban chickens.

This morning (January 13), I was walking past Hastings and Jackson, when a massive truck carrying chickens in open cages drove by on its way to United Poultry Company Ltd. While the factory at 534 East Cordova is generally pretty good at keeping the stink down—all things considered—the morning live chicken delivery can be nauseous. Today was no exception. The smell was like a fog.

I witness this delivery almost every day. These birds smell and appear very different from the shiny-feathered hens at UBC Farm. Surely, backyard-grown chickens would resemble the ones in Point Grey, rather than the ones travelling by truck?

Not necessarily.

The other experience was a neighbour in a small town who illegally kept chickens in a coop out back of her house. Keep in mind, she was crazy. The coop reeked; the chickens smelled and appeared no more appetizing than the ones I witness on the Hastings truck each morning.

Undoubtedly, Vancouver already has some illegally kept chickens. An official backyard-friendly policy would help promote best practices and keep the stink zones at bay.




Jan 14, 2009 at 11:19am

I just wanted to say that most backyard hens are clean, beautiful, well cared for, friendly, fun, and healthful. This article really didn't make that clear, and I feel it is important that the true image of backyard hens be portrayed here to the public. Many of us are eagerly awaiting the day that we will become legal chicken keepers in Vancouver. We are grateful for all of the media attention that our pet project has been receiving, that increases awareness about the great aspects of rising small backyard flocks of hens.


Jan 15, 2009 at 1:36pm

What a wonderful idea to be able to have a few chickens for fresh eggs. If people didn't look after them or the smell became too much then they should be denied the privelige, much like having a cat or dog I guess, you have to take care of your animals.


Jan 17, 2009 at 9:40am

Chickens have a smell. Their feathers smell especially when wet, their poop smells, especially when fresh. They require movement from one area to another, which is a challlenge in a small back yard. Their odor or related odors have nothing to do with the health or safety of the product you acquire in the store, which is no longer a chicken, but a piece of protein, fat, minerals and some vitamins contained within the fat -- sugars only as protein is digested. Ifthe odor bothers the writer and he or she believes the odor is a management issue, I would say she's 1/2 right, and that make make her a good candidate for further education. I believe BC still has Agrologists within their ministry of Agriculture. Perhaps she ought to contact one of them. No time like the present to move from society columnist to a chicken expert.

By the way, I do believe that backyard poultry has potential, but with the proviso that practical educational models be developed and not just by ex-hippes from the sunshine coats, but real nutritionists and farm managers. They have a lot to offer. Our small city here on the great plains ought to consider this as well. Maybe they'll hire an old guy like me to do the seminars. Great thought stimulating stuff. I already pester a friend who wants to do this as to how he plans to control the increaee in the hawk poulation - -and coyotes etc.


Feb 28, 2009 at 2:10pm

???coeditor of the lesbian erotica collection With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn.???

Am I the only person who find this a little strange? Weird.


Sep 24, 2009 at 6:05pm

???coeditor of the lesbian erotica collection With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn.???

Am I the only one who finds this a completely irrelevant ad hominem argument?