McIntyre Street East resident Brent Johnson does not want to count his chickens before they’ve hatched, but he hopes there is progress being made on his request to amend the by-law that prohibits keeping hens within the city limits.
Johnson says finding a sympathetic ear has been a tough egg to crack. He has had discussions with Deputy Mayor Sheldon Forgette, as well as City of North Bay By-Law Officer Ron Melnyk. Johnson says there has been some movement but no one at City Hall is running around like a chicken with its head cut off to help him just yet.
It was last year that Johnson first appeared before City Council to ask that he be permitted to keep his backyard hens. He harvests the eggs for consumption and has often spoken of the advantages of having fresh-laid eggs handy.
Johnson says he is not trying to put the chicken before the egg in this situation. He has presented several studies from veterinary authorities across the country to Council. He believes no study is needed with all that has been documented already. Johnson agrees that some sort of licencing is in order, making backyard chickens a money-maker for the City.
The reservations that he hears most often are the noise level of hens and the cleanliness and health factors involved in keeping chickens. Johnson says the noise is minimal and with the proper training course, the practice is safe.
Johnson continues to make appearances in the Council Chambers, sometimes as a presenter, sometimes as an observer. At the last meeting, he sat with a woman who also has had to get rid of hens from her backyard due to by-law enforcement.
He says he doesn’t want to act like a hen with one chick but there is a solution right there in front of our municipal politicians and the last thing he wants is for anyone to be left with egg on one’s face.