The debate over whether residents should be allowed to raise backyard chickens has once again become a topic of discussion in Moose Jaw.
According to the city’s Keeping of Animals Bylaw 5432, the keeping of chickens, turkeys, grouse, pheasants and other Galliformes as well as ducks and geese and other Anseriformes are prohibited within city limits.
Recently, a change.org online petition has been picking up steam asking the city to change the bylaw to allow for backyard chickens. As of Wednesday morning, the petition had 570 signatures.
Darcy Watson started the petition because of the rising cost of food.
“Like me, and probably a whole bunch of other people in town and across the country, are having problems purchasing food because of the outrageous prices,” Watson said.
“So, we're all trying to do what we can, but we're not able to do everything that we can because of certain rules that are in place within the city bylaws.”
While Watson’s petition is making its rounds there are still those opposed having backyard chickens within city limits. One competing petition asking for the bylaw to stay the same cited noise and the smell of the chicken coops.
Watson countered that chickens would be no louder than a dog barking.
“Medium to large dogs when they bark, it can be as loud as 90 decibels, which is pretty loud, and they can make an echo throughout the neighborhood,” Watson said.
“Whereas a chicken, laying hens in particular, when they're just clucking around in their little coop, they're no higher than a human talking at about between 60 and 70 decibels.”
As for the stench, Watson said the chicken coops shouldn’t smell as long as they are being cleaned regularly, which would be a bylaw enforcement issue.
Watson’s goal is to get 1,000 signatures with future plans to present it to city council.
“As soon as we get a few more signatures, I’ve talked to my partners a little bit more about this, and I do some more research into everything and come up with a better proposal, I will be contacting city council and seeing if I can obtain a meeting with them,” he said.
This wouldn’t be the first time that the topic of backyard chickens has come before city council.
In 2017, there was a call for a pilot project to allow a select few residents to raise chickens in their backyard. The request was defeated by city council at the time due to animal welfare and bylaw enforcement concerns.