As I'd mentioned in the last post, Red Deer City Council met yesterday afternoon to discuss the Urban Hens Pilot Project -what happened over the last year, what kind of feedback they'd had and where to go from here.
After a brief presentation by Joyce in Inspections & Licensing (I&L) and some questions from several of the Councillors, I started to get excited: the overall impression was that they all (but one) realized that it.is.working.
But Council feels that it still needs work, and I do agree. The initial 12 month pilot was just too open-ended, "Let's have a pilot project!" and just leaving it at that wasn't enough for the City to be able to draft clearly defined rules. While CLUCK has had a pretty good idea of what works (based on our experiences and those of other municipalities who already allow & monitor Urban Hen operations), we just did not have enough people sign up to say for sure that Red Deer can do it, too. (Photo credit: Jeff Stokoe - Red Deer Advocate)
I am, myself, guilty of being one of the hesitant, under-the-radar chicken wranglers, but that's going to change. I understand the underlying fear of registration, the questions: What happens if it falls through? What is going to happen to my pets? How am I going to tell my children? These are good, valid questions and by no means are we at CLUCK lining everyone up to be targets for chicken-removal. I feel very confident not only that it's the right thing to do (in the best interest of the entire community) but also that my hens will be safe, and I'll happily tell you why.
Listening to each of the Councillors ask questions and then take a moment to express their concerns and opinions, I knew that they had our backs. That they do see that it's working and that, in the best interest of ensuring it continues to work, we just need to help them gather more data. Councilor Lynne Mulder (who was our Honorary Judge at the Urban Hens Party in December*) brought up the fear issue herself, suggesting that perhaps those who are registered and have proven that they are responsible coop-managers be able to keep their coops in the event that Urban Hens get banned. Mayor Morris Flewwelling agreed that it's an idea that can be discussed when the issue is re-addressed in 2014 and a final decision is made regarding the bylaw. (But I don't think that it's going to be a problem.)
I cannot tell you how happy and relieved it made me to hear Councilor Mulder bring it up. Besides the fact that she's clearly in support of Urban Hens, she's acknowledging that we have each of us made investments into our coops and hens -money, time, energy, attention and love. Yes, love. These are our pets. I am no less attached to them as I am to my cat, or my beautiful dog that we had to let go just over a year ago.
Anyway, back to Urban Hens...
I&L also want to do coop visits. Joyce said that they would be done with notification (at a time determined agreeable to both City staff and the home owner -they will not be surprise visits!) and, again, Lynne Mulder addressed this, suggesting that perhaps a member of the CLUCK crew could also be present to ensure that someone with experience and knowledge about Urban Hen is there. I think this is a fantastic idea, it will enable those who work in I&L to learn what to look for (since they will not yet have had experience checking out coops) and give us the opportunity to answer any specific questions you may have.
I had to leave early to pick my son up from school so I wasn't present for the final voting, but Kristina texted me that they voted in favour of continuing the Pilot Project and registration. They also voted against initiating an Ipsos survey.
After I got home with my son, the media started calling! I had a photographer from the Advocate come within a few minutes (read the article here) and this morning I had an e-mail from Adrienne asking if I wanted to talk to a reporter from CTV Edmonton (I did, the segment is set to air tonight on CFRN). I had a phone call from the Calgary Herald, Kristina spoke to someone from the Advocate and tomorrow morning I am hosting a Shaw Red Deer crew. It's all a bit tummy-lurching for me, I'm an introvert, but I am also grateful for the opportunity to express the CLUCK point of view and how happy we are with Council's decision. (I'm also one of the few who are at home, so it's convenient for me to meet with the media during regular hours.)
I'm proud of Red Deer. I'm proud to be a citizen of Red Deer. I'm relieved that, at this point, it seems to be less a matter of Can We Allow Urban Hens and more a matter of Let's Make Sure We Do It Right.
SO. What's next? Register your hens, please! We will never give out your information ourselves, that is your business and decision to make, but I am confident that we do not need to be afraid. I&L indicated that they would have the registration forms ready today!
If you have ANY questions at all, PLEASE do not hesitate to leave a comment here or e-mail us firstname.lastname@example.org.
*In writing this, I realize I haven't yet posted all of the photos from the Urban Hen Party! Yikes!! I will make a point of finding the time within the next few days, promise!!
Submitted by Charity Briere - CLUCK Red Deer