If you are feeling up to the challenge of legalizing chickens in your own community, here is a little advice based on our experience.
Tell your friends, family, coworkers and anyone who will listen, about what you want to do. There is strength in numbers, so get a group together to share the workload and spread the word.
Local Government and the Bylaw Amendment Proposal Process
Contact your local government to inquire what the formal process for proposing a bylaw amendment is. If you are not already familiar with your local government, start to familiarize yourself with who represents you. Consider attending council meetings. Educate yourself with individual mayor and council member platforms to help gauge the individual level of support for your proposal. Review the official community plan or other policy statements, sustainability plans, and community strategies that define the long term vision for your community and state objectives and policies that guide government planning and decisions. Quoting your government’s own objectives in your proposal is an effective demonstration of your support of them as well as your interest in developing the community.
Contact local groups, clubs and organizations that will likely support you’re cause, and provide them with some information of a brief fact-sheet. We approached sustainability, permaculture, urban agriculture and transition networks, as well as food related organizations, garden clubs and a local educational farm. You may not only be able to take advantage of their existing membership to increase your own, but the opinion of established organizations may carry an influential amount of weight as far as local government is concerned.
Research and Writing
Other municipalities have worn the path for you; take a look at what they have done. Draw from existing successful models in the development of your own bylaw amendment proposal. Focus specifically on cities in proximity to you and those with similar concerns, climate, landscape and urban/rural composition. Don’t get lost in personal opinion, stick to the facts. Demonstrate all the benefits and address primary concerns directly and honestly. Take a look at a summary table of key provisions in our bylaw amendment proposal to the City and District of North Vancouver.
Be respectful and share your own perspective without judging or attacking the perspective of others. Be professional, polite, helpful and open when representing yourself and your cause. Don’t forget that council has a job to do in representing their constituents fairly and with due diligence; its difficult, if not impossible, to please everyone! A polite, honest and direct approach should gain the respect of council and could influence their final decision.
Be a Resource, Create Community
Support the process of a bylaw amendment, start to finish, by promoting community development. Start a website, facebook page, meetup, club or coop tour to facilitate communication and education. Become a resource by sharing information. Take a look at some of the support documents and resources we share on our Links and Resources page.
Signatures of Support
There are several options to provide proof to local government, of how how much interest and support there is for your cause. Because not all support campaigns carry equal weight, you will need to gauge just how necessary proof of support is, when to provide it and which method is the most effective for your situation. Consider paper petitions; online petitions; a citizen letter writing campaigns to mayor and council; letters of support by local leaders and big-wigs; or endorsements from local groups, clubs and organizations.
Wielding the Media
Media can be a powerful thing to wield! Be cognoscente of how and when you choose to use it; for all the positive attention it can bring to your cause, it can bring an equal amount of negative.