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Hamilton chops urban chicken idea

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 Hamilton won’t be allowing residents to raise chickens in the urban area any time soon.

Politicians agreed in a nine to six vote at their Dec. 12 council meeting with a city staff recommendation not to take any further action on the issue, including the idea of creating a pilot program in parts of the city.

The pilot program proposal, which had been discussed among politicians, was never introduced by the urban councillors as a compromise idea.

“While there are risks, there are risks that can be managed,” said Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie.

He said some urban residents are motivated to grow chickens for a local food source, protect the environment, and for them to become more self-sufficient.

Nearly a year ago councillors asked city staff to study the idea of allowing urban chickens in the city. The issue had grown from the city’s decision to update its animal control bylaw. That staff report on urban chickens was presented to politicians recommending no further action be taken.

Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark was disappointed neither staff, nor any downtown councillors suggested creating a two-year pilot program.

“Reasonable minds would develop a pilot program,” saidClark. “We make decisions based upon evidence.”

Ward 4 councillor Sam Merulla said allowing urban chickens within the city is a progressive move forHamilton. Other cities, such as Niagara Falls, Kingston, and Guelph allow urban chickens within their urban boundaries.

“What’s old is new again,” said Merulla. “Anything short of a pilot program is being unfair.”

Opponents of the idea said allowing chickens in urban areas will attract rodents, and other pests, and be a breeding ground for diseases.

“I’m not sure they will be cared for,” said Flamborough councillor Robert Pasuta, a farmer. “This isn’t an issue to be taken lightly. Chickens are not pets. They are livestock.”

Mayor Bob Bratina was frustrated at the entire debate, which has been going on for nearly a year.

“I’m getting tired of it,” he said. “I don’t want it in our city.”

Earlier this year the city’s agricultural and rural affairs advisory affairs subcommittee urged councillors not to allow urban chickens in the city, fearing potential health impacts on their own chickens.

Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead said there is no “overwhelming” demand for residents to have urban chickens.

“It’s a waste of taxpayers’ time,” he said

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