City councillors have asked Animal Services to consider the ramifications of allowing urban poultry farming in Winnipeg during a wild committee meeting that saw a former council candidate removed for bringing a live chicken into the council chamber.
Council’s protection and community services committee voted Monday morning to ask Winnipeg’s Animal Services special operating agency to study whether any changes governing urban poultry should be incorporated into a new animal bylaw. This followed an Oct. 24 council motion authored by Daniel McIntyre Coun. Harvey Smith, who is interested in the food-security benefits of urban poultry.
Right now, chicken farming is only legal in areas of Winnipeg zoned for agricultural use. Chickens are otherwise covered by rules governing exotic pets.
The issue brought more than two dozen urban poultry advocates to city hall’s council building, forcing the protection and community services committee meeting to be moved into the full council chamber. One delegate had his son dressed as a chicken, another wore a rooster decoration in her hair and Louise May, who finished second to Coun. Justin Swandel in St. Norbert in the 2010 civic election, brought a live hen into the chamber inside a shopping bag.
When May presented the rare hen at the podium, committee chairwoman Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo) asked security to remove May. No props are allowed in the council chamber, let alone live animals.
"Shame on you," May cried as she was escorted out of the building.
May raises chickens legally at her St. Norbert farm, Aurora Farm. She is also a spokeswoman for the Occupy movement.
On her way out of city hall, she said she did not believe her demonstration would harm the movement to make urban poultry farming legal.
Havixbeck said afterward she wished there was better decorum in the council chamber.
She said she has serious concerns about the potential health risks associated with urban poultry farming and wants Animal Services to consult with academics about the influenza risks.
She also said she supports the local-food movement, but would prefer city residents to obtain Manitoba-grown eggs at grocery stores.