Efforts to allow Saskatoon residents to keep chickens in their backyard are being revived once again at city hall.
A group called Saskatoon Bridge City Chickens will pitch their plan next month.
They’re asking for an 18-month pilot program, which would involve 30 households in areas where the community associations have shown support such as Riversdale, King George, Holliston, Hudson Bay Park, Mayfair and Kelsey Woodlawn.
“We’re not talking about a massive number of chickens running around the city, we’re talking about three to five pets in your back yard that you look after, the same as you would look after any other pet,” said Wanda Martin, researcher with Saskatoon Bridge City Chickens.
One way the group will try to convince council is noting the similarities between urban hen owners and other responsible pet owners.
“It’s like having your dog in your back yard. The people that would leave the sanitary conditions from a dog to pile up, they’re going to be smelly as well,” she said.
Martin said there are a number of ways caring for chickens in a city setting differs from how the birds are kept in rural areas. As such, urban hen owners would need to take a two-hour training course before joining the program.
“To make sure that people understand (for example) this is the best way to actually deal with the manure that comes from a chicken,” Martin explained.
“You clean it on a weekly basis. You compost it. You hose down the area. That reduces any of the smell. You’re not doing the same care techniques that you would do in the country.”
The researcher noted allowing urban hens would also address what she calls a disconnect between nature and the urban food system.
“We’re not spending enough time outdoors. We’re not spending enough time talking to our neighbours. We’re really disassociated with the way food is produced,” Martin said.
“There is actually a movement across the country and North America as well to re-introduce animals back into the system.”
Prospective urban hen owners would need to have their property vetted by the Saskatoon SPCA before they are allowed to keep chickens. The SPCA has penned a letter to Saskatoon city council in support of the plan.
This isn’t the first time Saskatoon city council has heard this kind of pitch: in 2010, council voted down a request to allow urban hens.
Saskatoon Bridge City Chickens will make their pitch at city hall on April 3.