Playing Chicken

This morning at Council a Notice of Motion was introduced to develop a pilot project for urban egg laying hens.  I have included a copy of the Motion below:


Ultimately this motion failed 9-6 making my vote a bit of a moot point.  During deliberations I asked a series of questions about this Motion:

  • What are the specific communities that this pilot will take place in?
  • When would this pilot end?
  • I have read that hens only lay eggs for 2-3 years and can live for up to 10 years. What happens in the 7 years that the hens are not laying eggs?
  • What happens with the waste generated by the hens? How is it disposed of?
  • Will the hens be contained in coops, or will they be free range within the confines of a property?
  • Would consultation of neighbors be a part of the process?

I did not speak positively or negatively about the prospects of this pilot.  What I did ask for was some additional information so that I could better make my decision.  I moved to have this Motion tabled for later on in our Council meeting so that administration could take some time and address some of my questions.  My move to table the Motion failed 8-7.

Personally, I do not really have an issue with exploring a pilot to see if a project like this is feasible.  I was asked by a proponent of this project if I would like to take a tour of a site for backyard hens and see for myself.  I responded that I did not need to see one of these coops and would take Councillor Jones’ guidance on the coops as he had taken a tour.  It was not the spirit of this Motion that I took issue with, it was the Motion itself.

I stated very clearly when I was first elected in 2010 that in order to vote in favour of something I would need as much information as possible before I made my decision.  My issue with this Motion was that it failed to provide clear guidance on the pilot; it simply stated, “do a pilot” without as much as a clarification on the length of the pilot.  I do not think it is fair to Calgarians for Council to issue a blank cheque to administration for them to simply take forward a pilot.  We are to set the direction and provide guidance, and this Motion simply did not capture that.  If a future Motion comes forward that addresses my questions and provides me with the information that I need, I may be inclined to support something like this in the future.