A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE – MARCH 13: ‘Get the flock out!’

Deciding to not allow keeping of chickens in the community adds to city's already overburdened enforcement file.

Last spring Greenwood council was asked by a resident if they might pass the necessary bylaws that would allow residential property owners to keep laying hens.

The idea was discussed and as I recall some sample bylaws from other communities were passed around the council table for a look see. But nothing ever became of the initiative. So with the arrival of spring 2014 the resident who had sent in the original request sat down and penned another letter to council – this time asking for an update. According to City Administrator Robin Dalziel other residents had also phoned in to ask the same thing.

So last Monday night the issue came back to council. This time Dalziel had another year of experience under his belt and he may well have come to the realization that one of the first things a local politician is likely to do when they are presented with a problem is to try to find some way of avoiding having to decide anything.

There are several ways of doing this. Asking staff to research something is a perennial favorite. This delays the decision for at least one more meeting and makes it look like council is doing something.

Unfortunately it also adds to the workload of staff at the municipal office – and small towns don’t have so much extra money flying around that they can afford to have their administrators spending time becoming experts on something like chicken coop odours and such.

So this time around Dalziel posed a simple, straightforward question to council. “Council needs to decide if they want to modify City bylaws to allow the raising of chickens,” his memo to council read.

After a lot of discussion it was decided that council didn’t want to make the change. But then Councillor Ashton pointed out – quite correctly – that if the city wasn’t going to allow people to legally keep chickens within city limits then they should not turn a blind eye to those who are already keeping poultry illegally.

That brought about a lot more discussion that was resolved when council agreed that the illegal birds would have to go.

It all winds up with a zinger of a headline though, “Council tells residents to get the flock out of town!”

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I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s going to happen whether I tell you about it or not. There is a local government election coming in November. The citizen’s golden opportunity to provide some input every few years.

Not that it does much good because there’s no penalty for politicians who don’t deliver on their campaign promises.

I once saw a politician campaigning for reelection on a television documentary about the slums of Calcutta. This man was standing with his hand on a water spigot in the street in front of a crowd of local residents.

“When I was running for office in the last election I promised you that if you elected me I would bring a water tap to this neighborhood,” he told them.

“And look – here is the tap! I stand here today to pledge to you that if you return me to office that I will bring water to this tap!”

This is one of the best campaign speeches ever in my opinion. The guy was smart enough to have two bodyguards standing over by his Lincoln Towncar just in case he needed some protection or a quick get-a-way.