City orders Fred Connors to get rid of his chickens

Local food movement violates HRM bylaw

Fred Connors, owner of the cafe/art gallery/salon FRED, has become the stylish new spokesman for keeping backyard hens in Halifax. Just two months after Connors transformed a "dilapidated crack house" into an urban farmhouse with a self-contained chicken coop, the city served him with a "Notice to Comply" with the bylaw prohibiting hens in residential areas. He'll face legal action if he doesn't relocate his seven chickens by August 6, but Connors says the flock is here to stay.

Connors and his partner Joel Flewelling live just two blocks from FRED. The proximity of their flock to their cafe allows them to reduce the miles their food travels. The hens feast on scraps from the cafe kitchen and produce the eggs used in the cafe's baked goods. Connors uses the flock's manure as fertilizer for his backyard garden. Herbs and vegetables from the garden end up in salads and entrees at the Agricola Street cafe. Connors says his food system is "not radical. It's just common sense."

District 14 councillor Jennifer Watts says there is a small community of people like Connors, raising hens in their backyards. "If they are cared for properly, the problems associated with them, such as rats, can be controlled," says Watts about urban chickens. The Peninsula Community Council will meet in September to review a staff report, taking an in depth look at the urban chicken issue. A public hearing may follow, if council considers amending the Land Use By-Law to permit urban hens.

Connors hopes the city's legal action against him will bring awareness to the importance of food security and producing high quality food locally. But there appear to be some communication barriers. "I was deleted by the mayor on Facebook as a friend," he exclaims. "This is so Grade 3."

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