Regional Food & Agricultural Strategy Update
A Regional Food and Agriculture Strategy was approved by the Capital Regional District (CRD) Board in December 2016. It resulted in the establishment of the Regional Food and Agricultural Task Force. Members of the Task Force include non-profit organizations like SR Food CHI, First Nations, municipalities and the Ministry of Agriculture and other agricultural interests within the CRD. The Task Force provides advice on the implementation of the RFAS and input on the CRD’s strategic agricultural goals and priorities through the Planning, Transportation and Protective Services Committee.
Since its February 2017 inaugural meeting, the Task Force has established initial priorities on the 10 recommendations of the RFAS. The task Force has also considered means to improve the CRD capacity on regional food and agriculture issues, supporting organic matter recycling, drainage issues, wildlife management issues and supporting Aboriginal food and agriculture related projects, among others.
Subsequent Task Force discussion has focused on the issue of establishing a farmland trust within the CRD as a means to acquire and manage productive agricultural land. It is intended that a publicly-funded farmland trust would make land available for rent to aspiring and existing farmers and support food production initiatives. Various financing alternatives permitted under municipal legislation have been discussed to establish a farmland trust initiative.
The absence of an abattoir in the CRD for a wide range of livestock has been introduced as an issue for discussion. There is one with limited capacity is located on the Saanich Peninsula; others are located up Island in Cowichan Bay and Black Creek. Transportation costs and the stress put on the farmers and the animals is telling. Discussion regarding an abattoir will form part of future Task Force discussions.
In September CRD staff will be taking a report forward to the Planning, Transportation and Protective Services Committee that will present the priorities established by the Task Force as well as presenting a business case for a CRD Farmland Trust. The Committee will be debating the staff report and forwarding a recommendation to the CRD Board on the outcomes of the staff report to the October Board meeting.
– Food CHI board member, Gerald LeBlanc is Food CHI’s member to this Task Force.