With his permission, this is Mr Heyde's response to Mayor Stetski.
I have been doing a lot of thinking in the past few months about urban agriculture, sustainability, and where Cranbrook fits into this. I must tell you that the more I read (and I have read extensively on the subjects of urban and sustainable agriculture, and small-scale animal husbandry) and the more I think about it, the more frustrated I am with the non-response from the city. The so-called committee responded with a "no", referencing the possibility of pollution (noise, odour, and bacterial), as a primary concern. I am curious if there are any urban agriculture experts on that committee, or if any urban agriculture experts were contacted. The fact that the committee was concerned about the various types of pollution that a chicken might cause is evidence of the intentional disconnect from food in which we find ourselves. The idea that animals that are useful for food are dirty and carry disease is a reflection of the fact that we have allowed ourselves to become ignorant about where our food comes from. I would like to reiterate with absolute clarity that a small flock of chickens is no more than, and arguable less of a pollution risk (bacterial, noise, and odour), than a dog. As an example, while made-on-site organic chicken manure is deemed to be the best fertiliizer money can't buy, most composters advise against using dog feces for fertilizer, due to the risk of pathogens. I recently read a great book by Joel Salatin (a cantankerous fellow, but he knows his stuff) called "Folks, This Ain't Normal" in which he repeatedly mentions how absurd it is that homes would keep pet birds, which are useless, rather than a couple of chickens, which can turn kitchen waste into beautiful, nutritious eggs and rich compost. If the good people on the committee that recommended against my proposal don't know Joel Salatin, they simply didn't do their homework.
All of that said, I am not optimistic about the future of Cranbrook as a sustainable city. My wife and I have recently acquired a parcel of land outside of city limits, and will be moving there shortly. One of the things that precipitated this (or expedited it at any rate) is that we want to live in a place where we are free to live in a sustainable way, rather than restricted from doing so. We want to live somewhere where backwards-thinking people aren't telling us what we cannot do, or that we cannot heal the earth through agriculture, and must instead support large-scale, unsustainable, fossil-fuel gobbling megafarms. I appreciated the recommendation about supporting local farmers, but hope that City Council doesn't seriously believe that 20,000 people can get their eggs every week from the handful of egg-farmers around here.
There is a beautiful scene in the movie Fiddler on the Roof (and in the play), in which the protagonist, Tevye, prays to God to make him a wealthy man ("If I Were A Rich Man"). In the song, Tevye sings that one way that people will know he is rich is that his yard will be full of chicks, turkeys, geese, and ducks. Through most of history and in most places of the world, keeping animals (in and out of town) was a sign of wealth. Somewhere along the way in the West (during the consumer-revolution of the late 1940s), we decided that animals were dirty, and raising them was for poor people. So, communities started pushing animal husbandry out of town. Mr. Stetski, you have an opportunity to reverse a little bit of this absurdity, for one town.
The City of Seattle Washington (which allows urban animal husbandry) is building the USA's first free food forest: 7 acres in a park full of fruit trees, herbs, and other food crops. All of it will be free for the taking.
I've just started reading a fantastic book by Bill Mollison (who, along with David Holmgren pioneered the idea of modern permaculture) called "Introduction to Permaculture". In it Mollison writes that "Conventional farming does not recognize and pay its true costs: the land is mined of its fertility to produce annual grain and vegetable crops; non-renewable resources are used to support yields; the land is eroded through over-stocking of animals and extensive ploughing; land and water are polluted with chemicals. When the needs of a system are not met within the system, we pay the price in energy consumption and pollution. We can no longer afford the true cost of our agriculture. It is killing the world, and it will kill us."
Mr. Mayor. You have a unique opportunity to change the world for 20,000 people; to help move it in the direction of sustainability (a system is either sustainable or it isn't, the middle-ground is just on its way to being sustainable). Please help to turn Cranbrook not only into a city in which people will want to live, but into a city in which people can live.