It was a case of the chicken before the egg in city council on Monday, June 25.
For the second time this month, a case of schoolroom politics was heard in council chambers - but this time, it was a little preemptive.
Students from Mrs. Trisha Reimer's Grade 6 Social Studies class at Kootenay Christian Academy (KCA) wrote seven letters to council, imploring the city to reconsider allowing backyard chicken keeping.
The move came two weeks after students at Ecole TM Roberts School sent as many as 80 letters to city hall asking for action on the dog excrement problem on school grounds.
In this case, Mrs. Reimer's class put together arguments why council should think again after deciding in April not to allow backyard chicken coops on residential properties.
"Dear members of Cranbrook city council," wrote the KCA students. "We were disappointed with the recent vote against chicken keeping. First of all, we believe backyard chicken keeping would be beneficial for our community and for the poor chickens. The community would get fresh eggs every day instead of wasting time, money and gas to go buy eggs from the store. The chickens would have more space to run around and be free instead of being locked up in cages… We hope that this vote will be reconsidered."
The letters arrived just three days after a new letter from a Cranbrook resident, Sven Heyde, who first brought the idea of animal husbandry to council in February.
Heyde wrote that council's decision not to allow urban agriculture has contributed to his family's decision to move outside Cranbrook city limits.
"One of the things that precipitated this (decision) is that we want to live in a place where we are free to live in a sustainable way, rather than restricted from doing so," wrote Heyde.
"You have a unique opportunity to change the world for 20,000 people; to help move it in the direction of sustainability. Please help to turn Cranbrook not only into a city in which people will want to live, but into a city in which people can live."
The letters sparked renewed debate among city councillors, who remain split on whether to allow backyard chicken keeping.
"I think it's unfortunate that someone who cares this much about an issue is going to leave our fair city because we won't allow urban poultry to be practised here," said Councillor Gerry Warner.
"If somebody wants to bring these things into the community, they don't bother anybody, I'm all for it. The more you can do this, the better off we are, to plant the seed for the future," said Councillor Angus Davis.
But Councillors Denise Pallesen, Bob Whetham and Diana J. Scott felt the city has invested enough time on the issue, at least for this year.
Councillor Scott reminded council that earlier this year it supported the recommendation of the Family and Community Services Committee.
"Their recommendation came back for various reasons that really haven't changed in the past six months," she said.
"I would like to see issues come back every two, three or five years, not every six months. But I think the children's letters are cute and I appreciate them writing to council and taking the time to think about these issues."
Meanwhile, Mayor Wayne Stetski said he does think the backyard chicken decision will come back before council at some point, but it's too soon to reconsider now.
"The rules of engagement say you need to have six months before motions coming before council," said the mayor.
"For any of you who have an opinion one way or another, feel free to contact councillors and express that over the next few months."