Backyard hens will make Surrey a better place.
I have lived in Surrey most of my life, and the best of those years were spent on a small farm where we raised all our own food. My sisters and I were in 4H, as were many of our friends. We passed pastures of sheep, cattle and horses on our way to school. Our family felt very fortunate to live in an area that would allow us that lifestyle. That was the Surrey I loved.
It has been heartbreaking to see those rolling hills of green destroyed in favour of townhouses and shopping malls. Surrey is not beautiful anymore. It has gone from being a rural gem to a crowded city. The tagline on Surrey’s logo used to say “City of Parks.” Now it is a city of parking lots, with no sign of reclaiming any of the green space that once made this a desirable place to live.
But there’s a small light at the end of the tunnel. The city’s recent decision to allow backyard hens (pending the outcome of a pilot project) is good news – at least there is the hope that Surrey might be slightly ‘greener’ and that those of us inclined toward small-scale urban agriculture will be both happier and healthier.
Although the details of the pilot project have yet to be established, I trust that the decision-makers at city hall will be open-minded enough to recognize that keeping hens is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ prospect. The size of a person’s lot should not be a determining factor in granting permits; what’s more important is the ability to care for the birds.
Similarly, the number of hens permitted on a residential lot should not be arbitrarily dictated.
I also hope that the same decision-makers will take into account that some breeds of ducks are excellent egg-layers, and can be wonderful backyard pets. In addition to their flavourful and nutritious eggs, ducks are also useful for controlling garden pests like insects and slugs.
There are numerous advantages to backyard birds with none of the nuisance factors commonly associated with cats or dogs, as long as they are being responsibly maintained. The good people at city hall can rest assured that they would never get a ‘barking chicken’ complaint or reports of an off-leash duck running loose!
I’m looking forward to being a hen owner again, and enjoying a small taste of what Surrey used to be.
Paddy Tennant, Surrey