The Chicken-in-the-back Yard Debate
To cluck or not to cluck is the question gripping the residents of St.Catharines -including the residents of the Merritton Ward. I want to involve the residents of the Merritton Area and hear their opinions on the issue. I will include the position that I currently hold, but I want to hear from both sides on this issue. So far, I have hear from only the "against" side of the debate. Email me at or check my facebook group "Elect David Haywood Merritton Ward Councillor" on the discussion board and send or post your side. One of the main priorities of my campaign is to engage the public more on city issues AND the decisions that are made to rectify these issues. Here is what I have received to date concerning the issue:
The first email:
My name is #$!@ #$#@!, my family lives in the Merritton ward. I received one of your flyers at the parade today. I would like to know what your stance is on the backyard chicken debate.
There is a new by-law being drafted by city council and I'm being told it will be brought up again sometime in November. By that time, if you are elected you will be on that council and have a vote in this matter. Can you let me know if you are for or against the idea of allowing St. Catharines residents to have chickens in their backyards.
My reply:
I thank you for your time. I do understand your concerns. I promise not to use your name. I think it is important to have respectful debate without resorting to personal attacks. Positions need to be tested and examined carefully with an open mind.
I have talked to family members and I have read the articles in the Standard regarding this issue. My family just mentioned is against the issue because of the possibility for people to abuse the by-law. Sanitary issues were also raised. However, I will be honest - I think having chickens (a limited number between 2 or 3) could be beneficial IF PROPERLY taken care of. I do think that the issue needs a closer look. Maybe, there are valid concerns that out-weigh the benefits. Everyone deserves a chance to have their opinions heard - in a respectful environment, free from any personal attacks! This is one of the major goals of my campaign, to have residents more involved in local issues. I have spent the majority of my life in Merritton, living in the house I grew up in (bought from my parents in 2005). I hope that you understand that I only want the best for the area - even if we sometimes are not on the same page with every issue.
The second email I received:
As a long time resident of St. Catharines I am sending this email on behalf of the dozens of neighbors I've spoken to regarding this matter, which is of great concern to us. We are in shock and disbelief that City Council is considering passing a bylaw that allows residents to farm chickens in residential areas.
We think that this is a horrendous idea for the following reasons. Backyard Chickens:
- present public health and hygiene concerns for urban residents, especially young children, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems and people with breathing issues like asthma;
- take business away from local farmers;- attract pests such as rats, mice, raccoons, skunks and coyotes - create friction amongst neighbours due to the presence of noxious odors and noise;- limit the enjoyment of neighbours of their own backyards;
- could result in new burdens, costs and challenges for the Lincoln County Humane Society and,- create a new licensing and bylaw enforcement burden for the city which will not be covered by increased revenue.
- feces increase garbage/recycling, creating an issue with garbage disposal costs and number of allowed bags per family.
- No relevant long term studies have been conducted as to the effects urban chickens will have in St. Catharines, particularly where coyotes and the environment (particularly chicken feces and soil, should people attempt to create fertilizer) are concerned.
We believe that chickens belong on farms, NOT in the backyards of residential properties within city limits. As possible ward councillors, we strongly urge you fully examine our concerns and to take into consideration the consequences that such a bylaw change could have.
^%&%$# *(&^$#
My reply:
Hello &*&%^,
My name is David Haywood. I running in the Merritton Ward during the up-coming elections. I am encouraging residents to debate this issue. Could I post you name and concerns on my websites concerning the chicken issue. I will post it exactly as you sent it to me. I promise, I can remove just your name if you like. I really want to engage the public and have them more involved in city issues.
David Haywood
Merritton Ward Candidate.
Lastly, her reply:
Hello Mr. Haywood,Thank you for your prompt response to my email. Yes, you may use my letter but I'd prefer it if you'd leave out my name. Individuals who are a part of the pro chicken group have been increasingly aggressive and are not above personal attacks, so I'd prefer to limit the harassment as much as possible.Part of my main goal is to make the public aware of this issue, whether they're for or against the bylaw change, so I welcome a debate.You may also be interested in visiting this web page or facebook group (its a public group so you do not need to be a member to view it, only to make comments): or Oppose new by-law for back yard chickens
I encourage anyone on the "for" side to respond. This issue needs to be debated by both sides of the coin. So far, the "against" side has made some very interesting and relevant points to the issue. Please keep checking this site. I will post parts of my platform, with more detail, in the coming weeks. I will add the posts from other residents concerning this issue.
David Haywood
Merritton Ward Candidate.


  1. Here you go. Lots of FACTS.!/pages/Oppose-new-by-law-for-back-yard-chickens/158991587450316?ref=ts

  2. Here's some links for you. They separate the facts from the fiction and debunk the popular myths about backyard chickens (which are already legal in St. Catharines - this is about chicken coops, not keeping chickens).

    And in case anyone is worried about chickens being butchered in their neighbour's yards, that is not legal in the city. And it won't become legal when this bylaw passes. This is all about chicken coops to keep pets/laying hens in. Not about raising meat chickens to slaughter at home.

    Roosters, which are noisy, are also not allowed and will not be permitted under the bylaw allowing coops. Hens, which are no noisier than a normal dog and a lot less noisy than a barking dog, are what are permitted.

    A clean coop smells no more than a clean dog kennel, which is allowed right now. If you want coops banned because of smells, please call for a ban of allowing dogs to do their business outside as well. And then move to ban allowing cats to freely roam, giving them the freedom to spray our homes and leave their smelly feces in other people's yards.

    Again, this isn't about chickens. They're already allowed. This is about an appropriate space in backyards to house them properly.

    >Kevin Phan<

  3. Hi David

    Thank you for allowing both sides to have their say about the chickens issue. Some of the candidates are very closed minded about the issue and it's nice to see you are eager to listen. Unfortunately the first comment by Sylvia Browne (is that her real name) references the Opposers Facebook page, which is not the place to find any facts about urban chickens. Their "concerns" are mostly nonsense and fear mongering. If you want to check out my web page, there is a Myths section, which is thoroughly researched, counters the common myths and then presents the facts, and no opinions about urban chickens. The url is

    And you can have my real name. I am not hiding behind some pseudonym, because I am telling the truth and have nothing to fear. Also, your email-writer brings up the straw-man argument and accuses our side of being aggressive. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, our FB page is regularly visited by anti-chicken people who accuse us of all kinds of things, like being insane for wanting a few hens in our own backyards.


    Ian Watson

  4. Hello, I live in Merritton Ward and I am for allowing chicken coops within the city limits as most of my neighbours are too. As you may be aware, there are over 60 families that legally own chickens in St. Catharines and all they are asking for are coops to be able to let their chickens be allowed outside. There have been many myths floating around regarding owning chickens, but if you Google "Urban Chickens" you can find a wealth of information debunking them.

    Most owners of chickens are gardeners and would likely compost the chicken poop which has many nutrients in it to help their gardens. You can also feed chickens any leftovers so this will lessen the need for the green bins (although most gardeners do not use it for this...we currently use ours for kitty litter)

    The smell which is always brought up can't be any worse than the dog/cat poop which is around. And with owning 4 - 6 chickens the smell should be minimal. Like with any pet if you keep the coop clean, there shouldn't be a problem.

    Another concern that is always brought up is noise. Chickens make less noise than a person talking at normal level and owning 4 -6 hens is all we are asking. We are not asking for Roosters....I wouldn't want to be woken up by that every morning so I certainly wouldn't do that to my neighbours! My street has many dogs that bark non stop and I have been woken up too many times at 6:00 am to barking.

    It is horrific to see how most factory farmed chickens are treated and if you have read the paper lately you will see how many thousands of eggs are recalled due to contamination. Owning your own chickens will allow people to KNOW what is going into their food with no harm done to animals. That makes me happy!

    Owning chickens is NOT costly. A chick is $2 and the feed is very cheap and as I mentioned you can feed them leftovers so the cost goes down even more. Owning a chicken will be NO cost to the city or the neighbours....only to those owning them...

    Some great sites with a wealth of information......

    Cluck Urban Chickens:

    Facebook Page to allow chickens:!/pages/Petition-to-allow-chickens-in-St-Catharines/116183511755620?ref=ts

    Unfortunately, there has been a lot of attacks and lies from the other side against the pro chicken people and this has made a very simple request turn into a needless debate.

    You are welcome to use my name... I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in!

    Best of luck in the election!

    Conni Watson

  5. Hi, I am a life long resident and am pro chicken. This issue has only became a fight when a few people from the anti side who had prior issues decided to gang up on the pro side. Consistantly insisting we were abusing them. The truth is if this gets passed life in St.Catharines will not change, no horse and buggy, no mooing and above all no stink. People seem to remember a farm that was left to be run down as the owner wanted to change his land from agr to res so he let his place go. This is not what even a small cared for chicken farm smells like. We are asking for 6 hens, no roosters in a well made bylaw inwhich we already have a good example from the Victoria bylaw that we would just need to reword it and it would fit with our city. St.Catharines is a mixed city ,which makes keeping hens easy, we have aces to farm vets,feed stores and places to take hens in to get butchered if needed. The humane society claims there is not expected issues and considering that 6 hens waste is about the same as a meduim sized dog, garbage issues shouldn't be an issue. What people need to do is actually look at what information is getting presented, the anti side has not presented any proof from real sources as of yet.People seem to be forgetting that chickens are legal,we just want a coop and a solid bylaw. In Belgium, one city is giving three hens to 2,000 homes in an effort to reduce landfill costs. City officials expect to recover a significant portion of the $600,000 a year the city spends on dealing with this type of household “trash.” A single chicken can biorecycle about seven pounds of food residuals in a month. If just 2,000 households raise three hens, it could divert 252 tons of waste from landfills annually.we won't have this many people raising chickens but this just makes a point that chickens are green, St.Catharines needs to be green for our future. Allowing chickens has been found to increase property value,increase health and above all allow those who want safe,heathly homegrown food to do so.

  6. We already have chickens and roosters in St. Catharines and no by-law is going to stop us!

    Check out our sites to get nothing but the facts:

    This one has even more important facts:

    Why shouldn't we be allowed chickens? I mean dogs are so much louder than chickens and cats crap all over our yards. So we also want to ban cats and dogs too:

    In conclusion, there is nothing St. Catharines can do, we have our chickens and roosters and we are keeping our chickens and roosters! Don't listen to the uneducated, ill-informed fearmongers, they have no clue about what they are talking about.

  7. I am a chicken owner in St.Catharines. My wife and I enjoy the fresh eggs and the type of comfort any pet gives a family. I am disabled so it's hard to put healthy food on the table, 5 chickens cost less then feeding a cat for a month and cat's don't give eggs. We have a large enough property for 10 hens according to the falls bylaw many people do, those who don't have enough for atleast 5-6. Moving like the anti chicken side states you should if you want hens is not an option, it's hard enough to get around this city a farm would be impossible not to mention I work in the city and wouldn't be able to find employment. We own our property and should not have to worry about people looking into our yard and worring about animals that are not illegal. We just want a coop that offers protection to the chickens and offers a easy way to care for them. Those who don't want chickens don't, it's like with cats or dogs, don't like them don't have them!

  8. The City of St. Catharines currently has a sustainability survey on their website. As I went through the questions, I wondered how residents could truly live up to the moniker of "the garden city", reduce their ecological footprint, and be prepared for a natural or man made disaster. Keeping a few backyard chickens just may be the key ingredient to address those very issues. Imagine if instead of cutting our suburban lawns, complaining about the high cost of gas and allowing the mower emissions to further deplete the ozone layer, and then being annoyed that we can't compost grass clippings, that our yards were magnificent vegetable gardens overflowing with nature's bounty. Community care will benefit from our surplus produce. The garden soil is rich as instead of tossing our kitchen scraps in the garbage or green bin, we are first feeding our chickens those very scraps and then good owners that we are, we clean our coops and feed the compost bins! And those grass clippings? Allow them to sun dry and line the coop and nesting boxes. What about those eggs? No more frantic driving to the corner store (more gas) when you run out for breakfast!!! Instead you saunter out to the chicken coop, reach in to the nesting box, and are rewarded with the freshest eggs possible. Their yolks are a deep dark orange and truly are delicious. Several of the B&B's in NOTL boast about serving fresh backyard eggs as a drawing card. The yolks are orange rather than pale yellow as the chickens get to scratch around the yard eating all sorts of pests- that's right- mosquitoes, ticks, flies are treats to the chickens! Suddenly with the addition of a few chickens, we are the garden city, we have reduced our ecological footprint, and we have food in the event of a disaster.

    I have a flock of chickens. I rake their coop out daily (2 minutes) and give it a thorough cleaning and bedding change once a week. I have never had anyone tell me they can smell my chickens. They run around the yard all day scratching in the dirt, taking dust baths and eating pests. When I open the door they come running, hoping that what I have in my hands is a tasty treat for them! Yes they do make noise when they lay an egg- they get quite vocal calling to one another as they produce their gift- the noise lasts about 5 minutes (and is as loud as two adults talking in a conversational tone) and then they get back to business chasing pests. I store their food in a secure container and other than the red squirrels, have not noticed an increase in pests or predators. Well, other than my neighbours hovering around the fence hoping I have some extra eggs for them (I do).

    What I have noticed is that I hardly have any curbside garbage to set out. My green bin is only used for meats & bones, cat litter and dog feces. I have 3 composts currently. I am planning a large garden for next year and hope to grow several extra rows for community care- I'll be adding eggs to their shelves as well.

    Health risks???? Wash your hands just like you do after cleaning the cat litter box. Watching chickens is a great stress reliever! Amusing devils.

  9. As a resident of St.Catharines, who already owns 4 hens, I would like to invite you to meet with the pro side and have a sit down discussion with us. We can go over any concerns and definitely let you come to your own conclusions. Feel free to come meet my neighbors and ask for their input. Currently my hens sleep inside at night. We are not asking to allow chickens, they are already allowed, they are as legal as cats under the current bylaw. We are asking for proper coops for them. We are asking for regulation of them. Both for our hens well being, and for the public's well being. We are asking for a bylaw similar to that of Vancouver, which was very well researched and is very comprehensive. We are asking for very specific conditions that would prevent the problems the opposition mentions.

  10. There are a variety of reasons to keep chickens in urban environments, and its not a new fad. People have been keeping chickens in cities for centuries. Chickens help eliminate pest, the even eat mice! They create fertilizer that can be safely used on a garden. As we can't get a dog to lay eggs or fit a cow in our yards chickens are a great way to supply your own protein just as you can supply your family with home grown veggies and fruit. Growing food in one's yard is the best way to help with many health/social/eco problems such as obesity and poverty. Many cultures see Canada as odd because chickens are not welcome, deemed dirty and should live on a farm. This is truly a Canadian stance and many countries such as France see then as a normal part of life.Some cities are starting to change,those cities that have are mentioned as a green city, shouldn't we be aiming for that too? We are asking for 6 hens to be able to live in a box outside.

    L Smith

  11. As an owner of 6 hens, I feel I can comment on some of the outrageous myths purported by the opposition.
    FIRST> CHICKENS ARE LEGAL!!!!!!!! We just want outdoor coops to keep them in.

    Hens are QUIET! Especially at night. I cannot tell you how many dogs barking in my neighbourhood that wake me up, and ALWAYS are noisier than my chickens.

    As for smell.. I cannot smell my chickens/feces within 2 feet, if at all! We properly clean their area, and all is well. My neighbours would not even be able to be close enough to even occasionally 'smell' them!

    It also reduces our garbage/green bin greatly!
    We also can afford the greatest quality of egg ever (often $5-6 in the store!).

    There has been no increase of any rodents or predators since owning them, our feed is stored in sealed containers.

    There has been no proof of increased risk of disease in owning a chicken; not any more so than owning dogs/cats/hamsters/rats/parrots/etc.. and will continue to be a non issue by proper hand washing, and visits to vets for any sick animal.

    PLEASE don't just accept the myths of anti-chicken groups who have not done their homework on what it actually means to have a tiny flock of chickens in coops in our yards.


  12. Some people have claimed chickens can cause illness and allergies. CDC claims that there are only 3 illnesses that chickens can get that could be an issue, 2 are more common in other birds. Cats and dogs on the otherhand have many risks, the CDC even states cats can spred the plague! A few hens in a well constructed coop will pose no issues in our city. Over population is nearly impossible as most laying hens do not go broody so even with a rooster you would need to byuy an incubator, with cats and dogs they just need to go out side to have a litter. Roosters are legal now but they won't be if this passes. Please think about what the opposition is saying, most comments are wrong.