Alissa Brennan 0

Allow Backyard Chickens in Belleville

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Dear Belleville City Council: We, residents of Belleville, would like you to change the City by-law to allow residents to keep a limited number of hens (no roosters) in their backyards within City limits. Keeping hens would enable residents to provide a nutritious, delicious, safe, and environmentally friendly eggs for their families, while at the same time teaching our children where food comes from, and what it is worth.

Dr. David Waltner-Toews, veterinarian, epidemiologist, and professor at the University of Guelph, has written that he knows of “no evidence linking human illness with keeping small urban flocks.” Further, he believes that “if we do not make room for these urban entrepreneurs, we risk losing a set of very important food-rearing skills that will enable us to better navigate the economic, climatic and environmental instability our society will face in the coming decades.”

Backyard hens have always been allowed in many major US cities, including New York, Seattle, and Portland, with Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Victoria and Guelph now catching up. Please let us, the residents of Belleville, join millions of other city dwellers in North America who are allowed to provide eggs for our families by keeping a few hens in the backyard.

In order to accommodate concerns regarding the size, cleanliness, and cost related to urban chicken-keeping, any revised legislation could include:

1. Limitation on the size and nature of flocks Many cities have limited the number of hens permitted to ten or less, and banned the keeping of roosters within City limits. This addresses public concern around any potential health risks or noise associated with backyard chicken-keeping.

2. Confinement Requirements Many cities have included confinement requirements, regarding the size and design of coops to house backyard chickens.

3. Distance Requirements Other cities, such as Guelph, ON and Vancouver B.C, have included minimum distances that must be maintained between the coop and adjacent property lines.

4. Permitting Those who wish to keep backyard chickens may apply for a permit, which may be granted or revoked based on the owners compliance with all applicable City bylaws and regulations.

Changes to Belleville's zoning to allow the maintenance of a small number of backyard chickens would contribute to the sustainability and health of our community and region, the reduction of our community's carbon footprint and the provision of a healthy local food supply. Belleville could join other major urban centers, providing leadership in creating greener, more sustainable urban environments for current and future generations. Thank you.

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