City Hall Wednesday

I am going to talk about Regina Planning Commission’s discussion of Solar Orientation and a meeting regarding keeping livestock in the City, after the break

This afternoon at Planning Commission, the committee members discussed a solar orientation report (see RPC 10-12 ) which City Administration has produced at the request of Councillor Clipsham.  For a summary of what was said see the LP piece on the meeting.

The recommendations of the report were as follows:

1. The requested change or review of policy direction relating to solar orientation in the City’s current Official Community Plan, Bylaw 7877, be considered at such time as there is a review of the OCP policies.

2. This item (MN09-14) be removed from the list of Outstanding Items for Regina Planning Commission.

Some committee members felt that recommendation one didn’t clearly state that there is no change in policy on solar orientation.  Councillor O’Donnell began with questions to administration concerning how significant this issue is compared to the many other factors that go into development planning.  Mr. Bjerke’s response was that it is one factor that’s not greater than others.

Committee members felt the recommendation reflected that solar orientation was, on the contrary, very important and wanted to be sure the wording was amended to clarify it as one of many factors.  Revisiting the  solar orientation policy in an Official Community Plan review was accepted.

Some the committee members who also are in the development field, along with councillor Fougere, clearly were not impressed by the prospect of a “change…of policy direction” as the recommendation states in regards to solar orientation.

‘Some people don’t like their homes facing South… and with garages in front the solar gain can be minimal,’ one committee member commented.

It will be interesting to hear Councillor Clipsham’s thoughts when this goes to council; he has been pressing developers about solar orientation for a while now.

Livestock Review:

I wasn’t involved in the discussions around livestock policy a year ago, so I’m not so familiar with the issue (here’s a piece from the Sasquatch).  Apparently livestock was under the jurisdiction of the Regina-Qu’Appelle Health Region and they gave control over to the City, who then had no policy in place.  Dwayne Flaman, who was present to answer questions, Manager of the Bylaw Enforcement Branch explained that in the absence of regulation any animal could potentially be kept.

Tonight’s meeting was a chance for the public to meet with Administration and make comments or ask questions about which animals should be allowed in the city.

There were 4 people, including myself, at 5:30pm when the meeting started.  The first two to speak were a mother-daughter pair who wanted the city to allow miniature pigs to be kept as pets.  Mr. Flaman posed some questions like: should there be licensing?  What pre-cations would you take to prevent escape-rooting under fences?  What do your neighbours think?

After the pig concerns were met, the mother-daughter went on their way and I was left with another fellow concerned with urban poultry/agriculture.  We had a discussion about the pros-cons of the issue for 30-45 minutes before I left.

Some of the Con’s raised by Mr. Flaman (I asked for cons on the issue) were: possible bird flu out breaks; attracting predation from rats, skunks, mink, coyotes and foxes; roosters as noise nuisance; stopping commercial production; feces control; and that other large prairie cities have municipal regulations against livestock in their cities.

Some of the pros provided by the other fellow included: future food security; hen only policies with low numbers of animals; regulation against too many animals (mass limits); use of other regulations such as noise bylaw to prevent abusing the system; licensing chicken owners and look at best practices in large cities like Vancouver and New York.

I asked about what rationale council used in their decision last year and Mr. Flamen provided some interesting reflections.  From his account, council felt it would not want to impinge on poultry producers in our rural hinterland.  Places such as farmers market provide the appropriate rural-urban interface for products like eggs or meat to be supplied to urbanites.  Council also reacted to pro-urban agriculture presentations which used many examples from the “3rd world” and  that these presenters were not currently gardening.  For council, Regina is not in a 3rd world situation and a logical first step for urban food production would be gardening before animal husbandry.

I made a statement of my thoughts before I left at 6:30pm, the meeting went for another hour, so more people may have attended.

There is a fundamental question here, what is a city?  Is it a place for livestock and food production or is it a place where these products are sold but not produced?

Mr. Flaman mentioned a reluctance for his generation (baby boomers) to have livestock in the city compared to younger people.  He felt this generational view was reflected by the demography of council.

The generational gap helps me understand why council would reject the 3rd world comparison because in their view, the 20th century view I’d argue,  urban food production and crowding with animals are from the past.  Modernity comes with just-in-time delivered Florida oranges to super-markets.  The fears of peak-oil, water scarcity, climate change and financial collapse/debt we face in the 21 century city could seriously damage that tidy food production system.  This doomer logic, I imagine, wont get much of a hearing at council, but surely allowing licensed people 2-4 hens, with required yards (enclosures/fencing) in the city would be a reasonable step to promote food security.

Finally, Mr. Flaman suggested there has been little interest, pro or con received by his office, so far, on this issue.  It seems the number of chicken owners might be low to begin with, and that the City would have time to assess the practice.  I don’t see this as a “Genie out of the bottle” type issue where there’s no going back for City Administrators.  Council should allow the practice for 3-5 years and then have administration do a review to see how things are progressing.

If you want to fill the void of opinion contact your councillor, let them know their citizens want chickens.  If you want to influence Mr. Flaman’s report to council contact his office by phone, (306) 777-7961 or by email .  Look for Mr. Flaman’s report at the Community and Protective Services Committee June or July and then at council July or August.

City Hall Wednesday

One thought on “City Hall Wednesday

  1. Laura says:

    For the sake of transparency, I attended the meeting when this proposed animal bylaw change was up for discussion. While my co-presenter talked about examples (3rd world, but also Canadian and US) of cities that make it work, we also asked a lot of questions (similar to you) about why this move was made in the first place. We proposed that other bylaws that cover animal welfare, noise restrictions, and cleanliness/sanitization could help to make small animal husbandry in the city workable (like you suggest, limits on the number of animals, the conditions in which they are kept, etc).

    As far as the comment that some of the presenters at that meeting were not gardeners, part of my comments to the committe at the time centered around the fact that I am vegan and therefore not interested in raising chickens for eggs or meat. The point I tried to make was that just because I am not interested in animal husbandry myself does not mean that I can’t support other people doing this or wouldn’t welcome responsible animal husbandry in my neighbourhood. [It was a reaction to a counsellor who, at that same meeting, belittled two U of R student union reps who were promoting the U of R student bus pass because they didn’t take transit themselves].

    I am glad to hear that City administration is not closed to this topic being brought up in the future – these things take time to be accepted by administrators and the general public, and if it is going to work it needs solid policy and bylaw clarity to make it workable for everyone.

    Thanks for the update on the meeting – sorry I couldn’t be there!

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