‘They bring us so much joy’: Bird enthusiasts upset over proposed changes to Winnipeg’s pet ownership bylaw

WINNIPEG — Proposed changes to the city’s pet ownership bylaw that would limit the kinds of exotic birds Winnipeggers can own has a group of bird enthusiasts concerned and confused.

The Manitoba Canary and Finch Club, a group of around 50 bird owners and breeders, has launched a petition against the proposed changes to Winnipeg’s Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw.

“The dogs and cats – yes, they certainly need to be regulated. There’s such an overabundance of them, but people just can’t understand why they’re doing this to birds,” said Nancy Allan, the co-founder of the club.

Among the changes to the bylaw is a list of ‘allowable animals’ which would identify which animals and species could be kept as pets in Winnipeg. The Manitoba Canary and Finch Club said the list would ban almost all species of parrot and limit the kinds of finch and canary species.

Allan said the club wants to see the city take a different approach – create a list of banned animals which would prohibit specific breeds and explain the reasons for the ban.

Along with this, Allan said the club is concerned with changes that would limit the number of birds a household can own to five, and prohibit breeding of any exotic animal.

“Every member in our club is really upset about this,” Allan said.

She said for many people in the club, birds are companion animals similar to a cat or dog.

“That’s been our aim all these years is to educate the public on how great canaries and finch are and what a pleasure they are,” Allan said.

“They take very little care, yet they bring us so much joy and especially for older people living in apartments. So we would just hate to see that hobby be destroyed.”

David Driedger, a spokesperson for the city, said in an email the city is accepting feedback by email and community engagements about the proposed changes.

He said the goal is to inform the community about current pet ownership issues, explain the need to update the bylaw, share proposed ideas and gather feedback.

Driedger said the feedback will be used to refine the proposed ideas which will be presented to council in winter 2021/22.

As of Sunday, more than 1,400 people had signed the Manitoba Canary and Finch Club’s petition against the changes. 

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