A Torontonian’s fight to keep chickens in her backyard inspires hen-friendly laws (just not in Toronto)
Since we first reported the story of Toronto Chicken, a local renegade who illegally keeps backyard hens, her struggle has galvanized pro-pullet movements across the country. Her notoriety has made it as far as Washington, D.C., where The Atlantic ran a Web piece about how fowl keepers in Vancouver and Waterloo have used petitions, public education programs and blogging power to persuade city councils to legislate hen-friendly laws. These are people fuelled most by what Toronto Chicken calls the “broader issues,” like rising food prices, E. coli scares, the local food movement and “nutritionism”—Michael Pollan’s term describing humans’ growing obsession with all that’s nutritious (or not) in their food.
If backyard hens were legalized in Toronto, the city would still have to regulate most aspects of the practice: prohibiting roosters, capping the chicken count and limiting the size of enclosures. But it will be a while yet before a coop section is unveiled at Home Depot. One of the primary complaints about inner-city chickens is the clucking: the birds could drive residents of densely populated areas mad. And if there’s one lesson to be taken from the city’s response to noise complaints along Queen West and Ossington, it’s that city council has no wrath like that of grumpy residents who aren’t getting enough sleep.