Chickens can be a wonderful addition to your backyard, providing fresh eggs, fertilizer for the garden, and an educational experience for people of all ages. As cities move toward more sustainable practices in food security and urban agriculture, small flocks of chickens are cropping up in backyards across North America.
Backyard chicken keeping isn't a new concept, it just went away for awhile. Chickens actually used to be permitted in cities (and still are in areas that are designated rural), but over time as cities evolved, agriculture was gradually phased out from urban areas.
Chickens are currently not allowed in most areas of the City of Thunder Bay unless the land is zoned rural, so it’s important to understand municipal by-laws before making plans to keep chickens.
Over the years there has been a significant amount of public interest in having this issue looked at. We receive a lot of questions and calls from people wanting to know if chickens will be legalized in the future, and several citizen groups have emerged around the theme of chickens. For this reason, the Food Strategy document and the Food Strategy's 2015 Implementation Plan both state that the Food Strategy will work towards developing policy that is supportive of urban agriculture practices, including key priority projects like backyard chickens.
Locally, momentum is building. In the spring of 2016, the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy led a community consultation process on backyard chickens to determine the level of public interest in backyard chickens and to learn about what aspirations and concerns people have about chickens. Find out more about more about the community consultation by reading this short summary and by checking out some of the photos from the Open House.
The Food Strategy also researched the by-laws and best practices of other cities in North America that currently allow chickens.
The results from the community consultation and research were presented to City Council in April.