mitchellirons

rough notes

Halifax and the Chickens 3: Consolations

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It appears as though the case of Halifax v. Louise Hanavan, Chickens, et al. is drawing to a close. Ms. Hanavan’s one month roosting reprieve is about to end, and the urban farmer is making plans to send her three chickens out of town. They will settle in at Heliotrust, an Ecology Action Centre-affiliated farm to live their days, before shuffling off once more to the Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum. Ms. Hanavan (who does have an affiliation with the EAC, but this should not be held against her – everyone should have an affiliation to the EAC) is presumably satisfied with the way things are turning out, given her statements to the CBC and the Halifax Chronicle Herald that she is happy with the awareness for urban farming that has developed across Canada as a result of things.

The development of awareness is fair enough, but I still wonder how this series of events might appear to people who live outside of town. Hanavan’s story could be summed up as the tale about the Halifax resident who would like to “do her part” and practice small-scale urban farming, an act condoned by many other urban centres, but who has had to give up her venture due to the unfounded fears of her neighbours and of council. Perhaps this town isn’t open to new ideas in the manner it think itself to be?

Granted, Ms. Hanavan’s backyard operation contravened current municipal bylaws, and the wheels of governance move at an awfully slow pace (even if they’re moving in the right direction), so the one-month reprieve probably would not have done much to help her hennery. Nonetheless, the ordeal seems symptomatic of a larger political culture in Halifax that is constantly dissuaded against innovation or change. The same council that upholds ridiculous development and zoning bylaws in the downtown core must uphold anachonristic and arcane bylaws that prevent the development of locally sourced foods. Now, not all innovations are good innovations, and change should never happen just for the sake of change. However, some innovations and some ideas are good ideas, and must not be rejected simply because they are new or different from current bylaws and statutes.

As readers have previously noted, it is fairly easy to conflate and confuse these two subject (municipal politics and the Chicken controversy), and I have done so once already. What has happened to Ms. Hanavan, however, is similar to Council’s relations with residents against the Chebucto road widening, or proponents of HRM By Design: it is indicative of a council that cannot envision “the bigger picture” regarding urban renewal and civic activism. Or worse, it is indicative of a council unwilling to listen to its citizens. I do not presume for one moment that Ms. Hanavan’s own urban farming politics dovetails with my own politics regarding the the renewal of Halifax’s downtown, but I do believe the fiasco caused by her backyard operation is an example of the conservatism that prevails in a town that believes itself to be progressive.

Previous Links:
1. Halifax and the Chickens 2: The Old Guard, where the writer takes further note of Louise Hanavan’s story and continues to rant about hens and politics in Halifax.
2. Halifax and The Chickens, where the writer takes note of Louise Hanavan’s story and rants about hens and politics in Halifax.

Final Thoughts: Its a disgrace that I had to turn to Where Magazine to find a link to a local, civic museum. That’s another sign of how things go in this town.
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