Vision’s homeless shelter for chickens gets plucked – for now

chickens back in the news
Sun cover March ’09: Vision’s chickens are back in the news with scuttled shelter plan

It’s official, Vision’s plans to build a $20,000 homeless shelter for abandoned backyard chickens appears to be put on hold. I’d been hearing from City staff for weeks now that the City Manager’s office was never going to permit this shelter to be built. If you recall, the whole concept of allowing backyard chickens was hatched up by Coun. Andrea Reimer early in this term.

Janet Brown from CKNW News did on this story last evening. You'll split a gut listening to it – guaranteed! (mp3)

If Penny Ballem had signed off on this project the NPA candidates would have had free range to mock Vision during the upcoming election. It’s not too far-fetched to think that the NPA’s mayoral candidate would want to use the homeless shelter as the backdrop for his/her campaign kickoff.

It might have gone something like this… "Ladies and gentlemen, while our Stanley Park petting zoo was closed, arts funding was slashed, millions spent on a separated bike lane that few people use, staff were laid off and homelessness increased by 12%…this Mayor and his Vision colleagues thought it was a priority to build a homeless shelter for chickens. I say they've got their priorities all wrong!"

And so it goes.

Well, it looks like the NPA’s mayoral candidate and his or her team won’t get the chance to use the chicken homeless shelter as part of their media strategy, cause it ain’t going to get built. Yesterday we received a confirmation email from Tom Hammel:

Hammel, Tom <tom.hammel@vancouver.ca>
to daniel@citycaucus.ca
cc "Stewart, Wendy" <Wendy.Stewart@vancouver.ca>
Date Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 9:32 AM
Subject: FW: Shelter for abandoned chickens

Wendy passed this along to me.

Council approved the funding for a chicken coop at the Animal Shelter when they approved the program. There is no directive from senior management to put the project on hold. However, prior to spending money on such a shelter, we thought it would be prudent to gain some experience with the program to determine whether the construction of a facility was actually needed. To date, our experience has been that we don’t have a need a coop. In 2010, Animal Control took in about 15 chickens. We have developed contacts with hobby farmers and others that have taken the chickens from us when they come in, so they are not around for long periods, and we can house them in spare dog kennels until they are placed. We will continue monitoring the situation and if the number of chickens coming in increases, or we aren’t able to place them easily, then we may consider building an appropriate facility.

One thing to keep in mind is that we do not take chickens from residents that no longer want them. We tell residents that it is up to them to place chickens that they no longer want to keep. So the chickens that we come across are strays.

Hope that helps.

Tom Hammel, P.Eng.
Assistant Director, Licenses & Animal Control Division
and Deputy Chief License Inspector
City Of Vancouver
Licenses & Inspections
Tel: 604.873.7545 Email: tom.hammel@vancouver.ca

So as you can see, the rumours that the chicken homeless shelter was put on hold appear to be true. However, according to Hammel, the reason they didn’t build it was not due to a directive from the City Manager’s office, but rather, it’s because they didn’t find enough stray chickens to warrant it.

You could argue that Vision Vancouver have become synonymous with urban chickens because of their insistence on making this a cornerstone of their ‘green’ plans for the city. It will be interesting to see how voters feel about Vision’s chickens in November.

- Post by Daniel

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