Food systems include the economic, environmental, and social factors involved in food production, distribution, processing, consumption, and waste. Decisions about food tend to be disjointed and do not take into account the role of food as shaping societies and leading to healthy environments. For this reason we see issues like hunger, spiking rates of obesity, loss of cooking and growing skills, food being shipped in from far away, and loss of important food infrastructure. The Thunder Bay Food Charter and Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy are founded on the notion that addressing these issues requires a coordinated and comprehensive approach to food systems planning.
In Ontario, beekeeping is regulated by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). OMAFRA currently has the same set of regulations for both urban and rural hives. The Ontario Bees Act (1990) requires that all hives be kept at a minimum of 30 meters from the property line. This regulation effectively prohibits beekeeping in dense urban environments, although hives can kept on larger lots, so long as they meet the 30 meter distance rule.
Historically, urban livestock were a vital component of city life. Many places in Canada and much of the world are passing By-laws that let city dwellers keep backyard hens, yet it is still not allowed within many communities in the Thunder Bay area. Within the City of Thunder Bay, for example, By-law 100-2010 does not allow people to keep livestock—which includes cattle, goats, sheep, bees, fish, poultry, pigeons, and other agricultural animals—in certain parts of the city. It is legal to keep livestock within some areas of Thunder Bay. If you're thinking of getting chickens and you live in Thunder Bay, here are three things you should know. First, the land you're thinking of having chickens on must be zoned rural. All land within the city limits is zoned differently, which means it can be used for some things (like houses) and not others (like a shopping centre). Contact your municipality to find out the specifics of your property's zoning. Within the City of Thunder Bay, you can contact the Planning Division (625-2216). Second, in order to have livestock, the property must meet certain minimum criteria, such as being a certain size. These criteria are laid out in Sections 6 and 7 of By-law 100-2010. There are actually two kinds of rural land in Thunder Bay, RU1 and RU2. Section 6 focuses on RU1 and Section 7 of the By-law looks at RU2. Third, the owner must meet the Personal Farm Criteria. If you’re interested in keeping chickens, contact your municipal or township office to find out about specific By-laws and other regulations that might apply, and to ask any questions you have on the criteria.
You can also check out our fact sheet on Backyard Chickens in Thunder Bay for some useful tips.