In the backyards of Sudbury, some residents are keeping chickens, even though it violates the city’s bylaws. But they soon could be in the right, as allowing chickens in urban neighbourhoods will be looked at as part of the city's official plan review.

Cities across North America are fielding calls from eat-local advocates, asking them to loosen up the rules on backyard farming. Greater Sudbury planning manager Mark Simeoni said exactly how Sudbury can produce more of its own food is one of the big questions the city is hoping to answer.

"We see

[backyard farming] as a real opportunity," Simeoni said. "Providing food system security and looking at that as an economic opportunity in Sudbury. [As well as] exploring how Sudbury can adapt itself to that."

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As part of its official plan review, Greater Sudbury will look at allowing chicken coops on urban residential properties. (Erik White/CBC)

For those residents who have been keeping chickens and collecting eggs for years, a bylaw change would be welcome.

One homeowner, who the CBC has agreed to not to name, said he converted his backyard shed into a chicken coop two years ago. The lawnmower and garden tools were replaced by five chickens.

"I just thought it was strange, I could have parrots and macaws and iguanas, but I [couldn’t] have a few pet chickens," he said.

He said in two years, he has had no complaints about noise, smell or anything else.

"I've always asked the neighbours, if you have a complaint, if you don't like them, come see me and we'll work something out."

And now it looks like Greater Sudbury is looking at working things out for these backyard farmers as it considers changing the rules that govern what can be done on city residential properties — and to encourage citizens to eat local.

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Raising chickens to provide eggs is one way to eat local. (Erik White/CBC)

"If you're going to eat local and provide a base for that type of industry around food, you're going to have to look at different options," Simeoni said.

He added that means moving away from thinking of a farm as wide open space — and thinking of it as something that can fit between a swimming pool and a sandbox.

Greater Sudbury's revised official plan is expected to come before city council for a vote by the end of the year.