Next year could see the return of chickens to Toronto’s backyards after a 29-year hiatus

Next year could see the return of chickens to Toronto’s backyards after a 29-year hiatus

Riverdale Farm, one of the few locations in Toronto where chickens are permitted (Image: Matt Jiggins)

An end to Toronto’s backyard chicken prohibition could be in sight, depending on the contents of a city staff report expected next year. The report will make a series of recommendations on whether urban chickens, outlawed in 1983, should be allowed to peck and scratch their way back into the city’s backyards. The news came courtesy of councillor Joe Mihevc in an interview with the Toronto Sun (which once again unleashed a torrent of terrible poultry puns).

From the Sun:

Chickens are allowed in most U.S. municipalities and several Canadian cities are starting to hatch plans to allow limited numbers of egg-laying hens, Mihevc said. “It’s part of an urban food movement,” he added.

Mihevc pointed out Toronto Public Health officials say allowing the chickens wouldn’t create a human health issue. “There is no public health reason why it couldn’t go forward,” he said.

Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, who pitched the idea at the last marathon council meeting, is “egg-static,” according to the Sun, which points out that others are not as “egg-cited.” The paper quotes Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday dismissing the whole affair, wishing city council would “apply their talents to trying to solve our budget woes.” As for Rob Ford, he voiced his disapproval in 2010 as a mayoral candidate, pointing out that Torontonians are “not living on the farm….This is the city.” While that may be true, Toronto Chicken and the small legion of other, quieter chicken keepers out there don’t seem to have a problem bringing a bit of the farm inside city limits. Heck, even the New York Times is on board with urban hens: the Grey Lady selected a $650 coop for its holiday gift guide this year.

Chicken runs for Toronto [Toronto Sun]