Halifax's urban chickens are liberated

City staff stops prosecuting chicken owners on the peninsula.

“Urban chickens allowed on Halifax peninsula” ran a CBC headline last week, and quickly social media celebrated liberation of urban fowl. But while this may seem like a victory for lovers of fowl, city spokesperson Brendan Elliott is quick to equivocate.

“The land use bylaw is silent on the issue of chickens,” says Elliot. “We aren’t therefore able to enforce anything but we aren’t saying we are now allowing them either.”

Understand? Neither do we. But the end result is people on the peninsula can have chickens without fear of arrest. (The situation in Dartmouth is less clear.)

Though no change has been made to the bylaws, Louise Hanavan, one of the Halifax’s first chicken advocates, believes the city’s current position has been a long time coming.

“It’s definitely a pretty simple answer, which is we don’t have a bylaw against chickens,” says Hanavan. “It’s what we’ve been saying from the beginning.”

Hanavan said goodbye to her chickens a few years ago when the fowl issues first arose. Though some of those issues have since been resolved, Hanavan doesn’t think she will rush back out to get chickens any time soon.

“I think it’s still an eccentric thing to do,” says Hanavan.

She believes it’s certain kind of people who love animals, want to develop a closer relationship with their food and have the time to take care of the feathery creatures who will continue to advocate for the hobby.

Elliot suggests that if people want to get chickens they should do their homework first.

“We have certainly not done an about-face,” says Elliot, referring to what clearly is, in fact, an about-face. “It’s still the same position as before. If you’re going to look at bringing in chickens it’s the same as putting on a deck. Call the department and find out what the rules are for the city.

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