Local Foods Update ~ October 2012

Since 2008, the Local Foods Team has been working on the issue of strengthening our local food system and economy. In 2010, the City of Edmonton passed progressive policy (the Municipal Development Plan or MDP) which stated:

before any of the remaining land in the City’s boundaries that is currently zoned agricultural could be rezoned two key strategies would have to be developed: a City Wide Food and Agricultural Strategy (CWFAS) and a Growth Coordination strategy (GCS). They also approved a vision for Edmonton as part of the MDP : “Edmonton has a resilient food and agriculture system that contributes to the local economy and the overall cultural, financial, social and environmental sustainability of the city”. It was the first time in Edmonton’s history that local food and food security were included as part of the planning parameters of the city. This policy happened only because citizens of Edmonton organized themselves with the support of GEA’s member institutions and turned out over 500 citizens three times to City Hall during the two year process. We moved from being food consumers to food citizens…actively engaged in shaping food policy for our city and region.

 

Since 2010, we have continued to actively engage citizens in the ongoing discussion as to their concerns and imaginations about the future of food and the preservation of agricultural land in Northeast Edmonton. As part of our citizen engagement, we hosted Local Food Training in June. As well, several GEA leaders have participated in both the Advisory Committee for the Horse Hill (Northeast Edmonton) Area Structure Plan (hosted by Waltons, Cameron Development and other key landowners in NE Edmonton) and the Food and Urban Agriculture Project Advisory Committee (hosted by the City of Edmonton). Debbie Hubbard has been the GEA representative on the Food and Urban Agriculture Project Advisory Committee since its formation in October 2011. In September 2012, we hosted a workshop facilitated by Miistakis Institute and invited a variety of stakeholders to learn about tools and mechanisms for conserving agricultural land. (land trusts, conservation easements and transfer of development credits) We were very fortunate to receive a $30,000 grant from Alberta EcoTrust that has supported our work on this issue.

 

However, there are many competing interests and views in the City about what should happen to the remaining land zoned agricultural in the City.  Pressure is mounting to rezone it and move quickly into development. GEA believes that a win-win solution to those competing interests is possible but that it will take leadership from the City and time to work through a process. All landowners deserve fair compensation for their land. However, through the Municipal Government Act, the City has been given the responsibility to make decisions that protect the long-term interests of all citizens and not the short-term interests of people wanting to make windfall profits. http://www.edmontonjournal.com/travel/OpEd+fork+city+path+future+pave+save+prime+northeast/7287309/story.html

 

Just as with our earlier action with the Municipal Development Plan, we need folks to flex their citizenship muscle. Plan to come to City Hall Council Chambers on October 26.  There will be a public hearing for the City-Wide Food and Agricultural Strategy from 9:30 to 5:30 pm. Come for the entire day or for whatever part of the day you can. This will be the only Public Hearing that citizens can have a say in the content of the Strategy. It will be held before the Executive Committee (Mayor Mandel and Councillors Sloan, Leibovici, Diotte and Krushell). They will decide whether to send the Strategy back for more work or on to the full City Council for a decision. We know that a citizen presence at City Hall does and can make a difference.


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