Urban chicken advocate wants coops in Ottawa

An Ottawa woman is petitioning the city to change a bylaw banning backyard chicken coops.

An Ottawa woman is petitioning the city to change a bylaw banning backyard chicken coops.

Lyssa Rhodes, who lives in the suburb of Kanata, said it's a homeowner's political right to have chickens in their backyard.

"I just feel that as a citizen, we should have a right to knowing where our food is and having our right to our own food, healthy food that is chemical free,"  Rhodes told CBC News Monday.

She isn't the only one who feels that way — an online petition demanding the city allow chickens to be raised in the municipality has been signed by 150 people. A Facebook page devoted to the issue has nearly 200 members.

Rhodes wants to have two to four chickens in her own coop.

Rhodes said a coop of that size is manageable as she kept a similar one when she lived in New Hampshire.

Hens provide pest and weed control, and an ample supply of eggs for a family, Rhodes said.

But Ottawa has a bylaw that bans chickens in areas not zoned for livestock.

Neill Ritchie, of Ritchie Feed and Seed Inc. in Ottawa, agrees with the bylaw.

He said if the bylaw were to change and allow urban coops, one careless person could ruin it for the rest.

Ritchie said a poorly managed coop can have a bad odor.

"Sewer gases. Basically the biggest thing is you get a methane gas, which smells like rotten eggs all the time, you would have that next door all the time," Ritchie said.

"Just going and throwing up a shack and putting some chickens in it doesn't make you a farmer."

 Ritchie said people who want to raise chickens should move to rural parts of Ontario.  


  • We initially reported that Lyssa Rhodes started the petition and Facebook page advocating for changes to Ottawa's bylaw with regard to chickens. In fact, they were started by other people.
    Mar 16, 2010 10:22 AM ET