To allow urban chickens or not to allow urban chickens, that was the question asked of Smithers Council two weeks ago during a Groundbreakers delegation.
The question was voted down 3-3, with council citing the negative impact it would have on the community.
The Groundbreakers’ Gale Jenne asked council to consider passing a bylaw permitting residents to house chickens in their backyards so they could produce fresh eggs.
This was, of course, built on the notion of eating fresh, locally produced food.
However, Councillors Frank Wray and Mark Bandstra noted there was a large number of residents who approached them about the negative impacts of such a project.
“They’re [residents] concerned and they would prefer not to see chickens in backyards,” Wray said.
“The message that I’m getting is people aren’t ready to see that happen. There’s always merit in trying something, I suppose, but I didn’t hear enough support from the community to even go with a pilot project.”
After much discussion on the matter, with the idea of implementing a pilot project to gauge the negative and positive impacts from Mayor Taylor Bachrach, there wasn’t enough support to pass a motion to allow for backyard chickens.
However, Councillor Charlie Northrup noted it would’ve been better to implement the project over a long time period rather than push it through for the upcoming farming season.
Still with larger centers such as Vancouver and Victoria passing bylaws to permit residents to house hens in portable coops, the decision was disappointing for the Groundbreakers, given the Bulkley Valley has always been an agricultural mecca.
“What some people think is progressive is just about the opposite,” said Jenne.
“I think there’s part of council that really thinks it’s progressive to have a Walmart, and I think it’s progressive to have sustainable food happening, and along with that chickens.
“To me having a few chickens penned in a yard is a lot better deal than having somebody’s cat come in your garden and make a mess.”
Although for now residents will have to continue to buy their eggs from grocery stores, the farmers market is just around the corner where fresh eggs from nearby farms are available every week.