Backyard chicken flap

ofacc025aTough economic times and increased environmental awareness mean we’re seeing things we haven’t seen in decades. Things like the return of the laundry line, the resurgence of the vegetable patch and even the re-appearance of backyard chicken coops.

Municipalities are generally encouraging of anything that promotes environmental awareness and sustainability – but some are drawing the line at raising farm animals in the city.

The city of Waterloo recently rejected a proposal that would allow small scale chicken flocks in urban backyards. Citizens against the city coops were concerned about the possiblity of the birds attracting rodents like rats and skunks but also expressed worries about smell and noise. And there’s always the potential of spreading disease – to humans and to birds.

The poultry industry also isn’t enamoured of the concept – they’re worried about disease as well, like avian influenza for example, spreading from small backyard flocks to their farms.

A serious outbreak can have devastating economic consequences for farmers and rural areas, not mention the destruction of hundreds of thousands of affected birds. An avian influenza outbreak in British Columbia in 2004 led to the slaughter of 17 million birds.

I’m sure this question will be one other municipalities will be grappling with as well – but how they will balance citizen concerns and farmer worries with the wishes of consumers who wish to live more like the  generations before us remains to be seen.

I wonder what other things may be seeing a come back as we settle into the recession and the greening of our society continues…? Any ideas?

Photo courtesy of Ontario Farm Animal Council photo library.

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