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Similkameen Spotlight

"Spencer Coyne When it comes to local food security-every victory counts"

Similkameen Spotlight
March 10, 2009

(Commentary)

Every victory counts when it comes to local food security and the City of Vancouver just took another step in the right direction. The City Council just voted in favour of introducing a bylaw that would allow residents to keep chickens.

Despite some detractors, Vancouver in some respects has been lagging behind many other cities such as Burnaby, New Westminster, Seattle, Portland and even New York which all have bylaws that allow residents to keep a small number of chickens for personal use. As someone who believes strongly in food security and local food economy, I see this step in Vancouver as a positive that I hope will have long reaching impacts.

Vancouver in many respects has become a beacon for food security in British Columbia. The city of Vancouver has a Food Policy Council that has a number of food and urban agriculture programs that it participates in from the 2010 Community Garden Challenge where residents have been challenged to create 2,010 new community shared garden plots by 2010 to the Vancouver Food Charter.

The Vancouver Food Charter is a document that states a clear vision of a healthy food system that benefits the residents of Vancouver. It identifies key principals for a just and sustainable food system from social justice to community economic development. The city of Vancouver realizes that a healthy food system is the foundation of a healthy community. In February 2007 the City Council voted unanimously to adopt the Food Charter.

Cities like Vancouver can show us that sometimes we take things for granted. After reading "The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating" by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon people outside of Vancouver started to see that it was possible to have a local food economy but also that there are inadequacies. In Nelson BC after realizing that there was no grain Matt Lowe and Brenda Bruns decided to do something about the problem. They sought out some farmers in the Creston Valley to grow them some grain. The result was Canada's first grain CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It is people like these and cities like Vancouver that can give us ideas on what we need to do to create local food economies in our own region. We do not always need to reinvent the wheel when so many around us are thinking and doing the same things we are.

City chicken farmers might sound a little funny at first but when you look at the long term impact it could have on local food security we may have just seen the next step towards the future.


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