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LETTER: Resident worried about risk of backyard chickens

Reader wonders if city staff and council 'made the right decision based on a few members of the community requesting to have chickens in their backyards'
Jeff Hopkins has participated in the city's backyard chicken pilot since 2018. He said his neighbourhood has enjoyed his chickens and applauded the city for deciding to extend the program to the rest of Orillia.

OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to our article about the city, after a six-year-pilot project, allowing backyard chickens throughout the city.

It is interesting that city council has gone ahead with approving community members to have chickens in their backyards with the exception of Coun. Ralph Cipolla (who voted against the idea).

CBC National News, on March 24, had a segment on the Avian Flu crisis not only worldwide but here in Ontario. Caution was advised based on the growing threat of spreading the virus.

According to the OrilliaMatters article, Coun. Ralph Cipolla questioned whether there was any way to monitor against avian flu.

(Senior planner) Jill Lewis replied the city will not be inspecting for avian flu, but Shawn Crawford, the city's manager of legislative services, said a poultry veterinarian previously recommended capping the limit at four hens to prevent its spread.

“That particular recommendation was done recognizing the avian influenza,” he said. “It's not a perfect solution, but by having a cap it limits the likelihood of there being issues in urban areas.”

Prior to the vote, I provided members of council with a recent news article from Reuters indicating that vaccine makers were prepping a bird flu shot for humans in case of the spread of avian influenza.

Additionally, I drew the attention of council to the latest reporting on the U.S. Department of Labour, Occupational Safety and Health Administration website. Handling infected birds places workers at risk of catching the virus.

I trust that city staff and council have made the right decision based on a few members of the community requesting to have chickens in their backyards. Hopefully the rest of us are not put at risk.

Phil Tweedie



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