Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Working towards food security in Metro Vancouver

Metro Vancouver is home to some of the best farmland in Canada. Because of the Agricultural Land Reserve, the viability of farming in our region has been maintained over the years. Due to the changing physical and political climate throughout the world, food security has become a topic of concern recently.

A map of the Agricultural Land Reserve in Metro Vancouver.

Ensuring that people have access, and can afford, safe and nutritious food is critically important. Realizing the unique and luckily state of our region; being a dense urban area with prime farmland, Metro Vancouver developed a Regional Food System Strategy in 2011.

The strategy focused on the following five goals:

  1. Increase capacity to produce food close to home
  2. Improve the financial viability of the food sector
  3. Help people make healthy and sustainable food choices
  4. Ensure everyone has access to healthy, culturally diverse and affordable food
  5. Support a food system consistent with ecological health

While these broad goals are certainly important to achieve, accomplishing them will take the work of all levels of government.

For local governments in our region, Metro Vancouver has created a detailed action plan. This action plan outlines 160 concrete actions that local governments in our region should take in the next five years.

For example, to increase capacity to produce food close to home, the action plan calls on the City of Surrey to “address truck parking on agricultural land by investigating the feasibility of designated parking area.” It also notes that Delta should “continue to work to minimize and mitigate the recreation/agricultural interface impacts along the Boundary Bay dyke.”

To ensure that everyone has access to healthy, culturally diverse and affordable food it notes that Burnaby and the City of North Vancouver should continue, and New Westminster should, “encourage, via in-kind support, backyard sharing programs that match homeowners with residents looking for gardening space.”

If you want to find out all of the action items proposed, check out the full action plan.

While action plans are a great, they aren’t very effective is they aren't implemented. The Regional Food System Action Plan calls on “each local government to assign a staff person for food system issues to coordinate local government participation in advancing the Action Plan.” This may be easier to do in some municipalities than others due to limited staffing resources.

Metro Vancouver does plan on reviewing the progress of this action plan. I’m hoping that if they find communities or items where action isn’t occurring, they will work collaboratively to ensure the success of this plan.

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