City council to vote on backyard chicken ban

Backyard hens already in Ledbury ahead of pilot project


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Andrew Patel has raised chickens illegally in Leaside for years

A pilot project that would allow residents of four Toronto wards, including Ward 21, to raise hens in their backyards was proposed at Toronto City Council last month. Councillors have yet to vote on the matter as it has been deferred until the fall.

In the city’s recent review of prohibited animals regulations, staff recommended that chickens remain on the list due to concerns that they may pose a risk to public health and safety, could cause public nuisance problems and may not be properly cared for. However, survey findings and research for the review found that, when respondents were asked which animals should be taken off the banned list, “chickens” was the most frequent answer.  

Leaside resident Andrew Patel and his twin brother Matthew have kept hens for years, despite the fact that they are on the City of Toronto’s Prohibited Animals List.

Patel said he’s gradually seen city councillors embrace the practice of raising backyard hens. But it has been a slow process.

“In 2012, councillors were opposed to it, including Cesar Palacio [of Ward 17, Davenport]. Now he’s actually brought forward the motion, so we are seeing councillors informing themselves and slowly accepting this movement.…” he said. 

The current fine for keeping a prohibited animal is $240, and enforcement is complaint based. 

Post City also spoke with a resident raising chickens in the backyard of his Ledbury home, who asked to remain anonymous. 

He said, although he appreciates the freshness of the eggs the hens produce, the experience has alerted him to the obstacles of animal husbandry in the city. 

“If you have the chickens, you still have to have the space. You have to take care of them, and there’s still the issue of predators [such as raccoons],” he explained. 

Councillor Joe Mihevc, of Ward 21, St. Paul’s, would like to see the project move forward to keep in step with a growing movement toward urban agriculture.

“People want food that is closer to home, where they know its source, where they know it’s good quality and …  that the animal has been treated well,” said Mihevc. 

The proposed pilot project includes strict guidelines participants would have to abide by.

“I think the bylaw would in itself provide a good framework for those interested in keeping hens and set out minimum standards,” said Patel.

The motion was deferred due to the passing of councillor Pam McConnell and will be revisited when council reconvenes in the fall.

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