It temporarily reared its feathered head again, but the issue of backyard chickens in Hamilton is dead.
City council debated the issue of whether to allow chickens in urban backyards on Wednesday. Inner city councillors Jason Farr and Brian McHattie tried to revive the issue after the planning committee voted it down last week.
Farr asked for a more comprehensive report than the one staff submitted this month. When council asked for a report a year ago, it asked for three points to be covered, and only two were, he said.
“It makes me wonder how we can receive and suggest no further action be taken given that we didn't get a full report to begin with,” Farr said.
The motion reopened the debate of whether Hamiltonians should be able to keep hens in their backyards.
Urban chicken advocates say producing eggs in their backyards reduces their carbon footprint, allows them to know where their food comes from and increases education and self-sufficiency.
Councillors against it said it opens the potential for nuisance, smell and neighbourhood complaints.
Eventually, council voted 9-6 to let the issue die by taking “no further action.”
Coun. Terry Whitehead from Hamilton Mountain said an urban chicken bylaw would use up a lot of staff resources on an issue that only impacts a handful of Hamiltonians.
“I've heard in this debate that there's not much uptake. Why are we wasting our time?” he said. “Why pursue something there is not an overwhelming demand for?”
Coun. Robert Pasuta, a Flamborough farmer, said chickens are complicated to care for.
“You can grow a backyard garden for vegetables,” he said. “But when you get into livestock, it's a different situation.”
The staff report last week said there are potential health risks with backyard hens, but those could be mitigated with a bylaw.
It also outlined bylaws in other municipalities. In Niagara, for example, there are two to three complaints per year regarding backyard hens.
In Guelph, there are about 40 chickens per 40,000 households and a handful of complaints from neighbours per year.