The River City Chicken Collective (RCCC) is a group of Edmonton permaculturists and locavores who are keen to have the City Planning Department re-evaluate those bylaws which prevent the keeping of hens within city limits.
Known locally as the Urban Farmer, Ron Berezan is a strong proponent of the group’s RCCC’s pilot project to study as many as ten backyard sites in different neighbourhoods around the city. The goal of the study is to develop regulations with respect to husbandry, cleanliness and overall poultry-keeping practices within the city.
Numerous North American jurisdictions already allow chickens in limited numbers within urban communities, including Victoria, Seattle, New York, and Chicago. Both Calgary and Vancouver are considering amendments their current bylaws in order to allow limited chicken rearing.
The primary advantage for the backyard chicken enthusiast is the production of fresh eggs. On average three chickens can produce two eggs per day. Secondary advantages come in the form of insect, weed and slug control as well and the production of ample high nitrogen fertilizer for the composter.
The local food movement is gaining strength in Canada, in part due to our increasingly distant relationship between consumer and farmer. As our groceries come from progressively further away, our need to counter this trend grows. More Edmontonians are growing their food in their own backyards, front yards and in some cases wherever they can find.
This trend towards improved sustainability is not a nod to the latest fashion. It is, in fact, an indication that consumers take their food supply seriously. Recent occurrences of contamination of the food supply (think spinach 2006 and 2008) have people thinking more about what they eat and how it is produced.
Movies like Food, Inc. ask the public if they are hungry for change, and resoundingly the answer is yes.
Personally, I don`t want to raise chickens. It seems like it would be a lot of responsibility, and I’m pretty sure my dog would have objections to sharing her domain with fowl. I do, however, support the right of others to raise chickens if their heart is in it. I think it’s a great learning experience for children and a good source of locally raised eggs. All the more power to the River City Chicken Collective – you have my support.
I have every reason to believe that the city will enforce regulations that will keep the numbers reasonable and the conditions clean and sanitary. I’d much rather have a neighbour with a few contained hens than a single free-roaming cat that finds my garden the most attractive place in the neighbourhood to do its business.
Urbanchickens.org is a great resource for more information about raising poultry in the city. If you want to join Edmonton’s bid to host chickens in our backyards, go to http://ca.groups.yahoo.com/ and search for River City Chicken Collective.