Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chicks in the city? Hot button issue for the Calgary Mayoral Election?

Only three days to go before people in their tens of thousands line up to vote for the next Aldermen and Mayor of Calgary.  I do hope there is a huge turn out because although the democratic process isn't perfect at least we have one and it tends to work better when it's reciprocal. (People run; lots and lots of people have their say). 
The fact that this is a local election should be an impetus to vote even more than in a general election; who sits around the table at the city council directly shapes what kind of place we live in by all the little by-laws they come up with. (Aldermen have as much say as the mayor but without all the hype and prestige so don’t forget to vote for them too).

Take for example the by-law on the ban of back yard chickens here in Calgary. I personally would love to have a couple of hens running around on all that grass in my yard that is doing nothing other than being sprayed every so often by my landlord to get rid of the weeds. The chickens would take care of the weeds and yes, the grass as well but at least I would have some fresh eggs to show for all that scratching around. From personal experience of living with urban hens (aka chooks) in New Zealand and Victoria, their happy clucking is not that intrusive. (Note hens not roosters). I’ve had neighbours with noisier kids and nobody has instituted a by-law to ban them. Yet.....
If it wasn’t for my worms the hens would also be great way to cut down on the garbage we produce as they love to gobble up food scraps and their poo, once composted, is fantastic fertiliser.
Now why bring this up as an issue when surely there are more important things to consider when voting for our city representatives? Well perhaps there are however, there is something very basic but fundamental that all we humans need to survive and that is food. I don’t need to go on about obesity, diabetes, pollution from industrial farms to say there is a real disconnect between what goes into our mouths and the effect on our health and environment in the vast majority of the population. Backyard chickens would be a very obvious step to bridge this gap. Hey, they do it in Vancouver ! (Actually they also do it in London UK; my friend has got her first backyard chickens: Daisy, Maisy and Sparky).

And this was the issue that got me interested in who was running for mayor back in June. I had not long been in Calgary and was probably unpacking in our tiny flat or something like that when I was half listening to Q on CBC radio hosted by by that delectable voice of Jian Ghomeshi when the words Chickens and Calgary were mentioned in the same sentence. 

My ears perked up and I tuned in. It turned out to be a debate between Paul Hughes (for) and Ric McIver (against) allowing back-yard chickens in Calgary. It got my blood boiling and I googled these candidates.  I found out that as an Alderman, McIver had voted against a by-law that would phase in a ban on cosmetic pesticide use. So I gather he thinks it’s okay to spray toxic chemicals willy-nilly but he’s against people eating their own nutritious eggs. Hmmm.
As for Paul Hughes, he was way too progressive for a town like Calgary and wasn’t willing to “waste” tons of money in promotion and never got rated in the polls. So he dropped out.
So who now will stand up for the backyard chicken? Ric’s out. What about Barb? I really don’t know. As for Naheed, I turned to that well of useful information about people, Facebook and  was surprised to discover on his discussion page there are quite a few people asking this very question. He has yet to respond.

C’mon Naheed. We need to know by Monday.

1 comment:

  1. I also love the ideas of chickens in the backyard and didn't know they did it in Vancouver, but was really surprised to hear they allow this in London! Glad to see it's a question being asked of the candidates since I think this question is representative of many other types of similar issues.