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Letters to the editor, July 11, 2013 

These are the letters and comments from the print edition

Chicken little, lot

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, so they say–so I can't really fault Paulette Forhan for voicing her discontent ("I don't want chickens in my urban neighbourhood," Voice of the City, July 4) with Fred Connors' small backyard chicken coop. However, nobody is entitled to misrepresent the opinions of others, and frankly I'm pissed off that she writes: "Connors' hobby is not popular with his neighbours and other residents."

I live directly across from Fred and I heartily appreciate his chickens. I just checked with five households surrounding Fred's property on Bloomfield, and they all feel the same–including his immediate neighbours to the east and west. I know many other residents of Halifax who support urban fowl and as of today, a visit to the Coast website shows 100 percent of comments posted under Forhan's article to be in support of Fred and his chickens, and against Forhan's fearmongering.

Forhan alarmistly writes that "The WHO...continue[s] to issue serious warnings regarding chickens." But the World Health Organization's fact sheet on avian flu explicitly states: "it cannot yet be confirmed that live poultry is the primary or the only source of infection." It also states that by practicing good hand-washing and avoiding handling sick or dead birds, you should be able to protect yourself. I trust Ms. Forhan is not in the habit of fondling Fred's (very much alive and healthy) chickens?

As for rats, I regret to say they were present in my backyard this spring, attracted to my birdfeeder and backyard composter. Shame on me for having the audacity to engage in such filthy practices in an urban environment! I suppose I shall now have to live in perpetual fear of Miss Forhan calling bylaw enforcement on me. —Katherine Kitching, Halifax

The rant against urban chickens cannot be left unchallenged, since it would appear to have been penned by someone rather not conversant with the facts– hard to imagine in the case of an admitted telecommunications expert!

Alternatively, the writer, Ms. Forhan, is simply being disingenuous. In point of fact, any competent virologist will tell you that urban chickens pose little if any threat re: avian flu. Should one wish to be paranoid, one might do better to worry about the ducks in the Public Gardens, or in Point Pleasant Park; they are, after all, free to move around. One wonders why the subject of SARS was brought up–are we supposed to believe that chickens serve as intermediate hosts? They do not, as anyone who knew how to access the internet could find out in a matter of minutes. As for the "serious issue" of "eau-de-hen", are we supposed to believe that chickens are smelly? Their waste is, but that can be dealt with easily. Ms. Forhan is quick to tell us about cities which don't allow urban chickens. Again, minimal effort is required to find out that many, probably more, DO allow them, including Guelph–if anyone knows chickens, it would be those folks at the agricultural and veterinary colleges!

I agree with Ms. Forhan on one point only: citizens need to become engaged in the issues. Accordingly, I urge residents to either call 311 or email to register your thoughts on urban chickens, ducks and, yes, geese too. I won't tell you how to vote–hey, I don't like pigeons! I will, however, suggest that you to be informed before you act. Ms. Forhan's piece is in that regard quite unhelpful. —Don Stoltz, professor of microbiology and immunology, Dalhousie University

The thing that bugs me about this story is that this man ran for mayor, yet following rules and bylaws seems to be for other people, not him. Building permit? Not me! Not allowed to keep fowl in the city? Ha, just watch me!

I don't really care if people want to keep chickens, and I don't see why it shouldn't be allowed, but as it stands at the moment, it's against the law, or bylaw, in this case. I'm just glad he didn't make it to the mayor's chair. Just what we need, another mayor that thinks rules are for other people. —posted by TDF at

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