LOCAL FLAVOUR: Saanich plans for the future of our food

In case you haven’t noticed, the current Saanich council and planning staff are taking food security in the District seriously.

In case you haven’t noticed, the current Saanich council and planning staff are taking food security in the District seriously.

With the population set to grow substantially in the region over the next decade, there is growing pressure being felt on housing affordability, infrastructure and services.

This pressure has significant potential to impact the cost of living as well as land and water ecosystems, and food security.

Fortunately, there are a lot of people thinking about this growth and working to develop plans and strategies for promoting health and sustainability in Saanich over the longer term.  An Official Community Plan vision statement expresses the desire that “Saanich residents enjoy food security through the safeguarding of agricultural land and the promotion of community gardens and urban farming.”

A key support to this has been a priority on developing village centers and maintaining the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB). The UCB was created in the late 1960s to control residential growth and protect agricultural and rural lands from development.

Over half of the land in Saanich is rural and lies outside the UCB and is home to most of our 380 registered farms. Many believe that the UCB is one of the most important planning tools we have to protect this farmland. Even so, a real challenge facing the municipality is limiting non-farm uses on these designated rural and agriculture lands outside the UCB.

In response to mounting concern and growth pressure the District is in the process of developing its first integrated Food and Agriculture Strategy. This work is being done alongside the newly approved Regional Food and Agriculture Strategy for the CRD adopted on Dec. 14, 2016.

Not surprisingly, protecting farmland and ensuring that it is available to farm today and in the future has been a key issue raised.

The key themes identified through the Saanich consultation process are:

• Connecting gaps in the local food system to improve food self-sufficiency.

• Strengthening local awareness of the local food system.

• Improving the interconnection between food production and the environment.

• Managing land use to support farmland.

• Supporting multi-generational farmers and emerging farmers.

Between now and April, the implementation plan will be finalized for presentation to Saanich council. To follow the progress of this planning project you can visit the Saanich website or contact plannner Jane Evans at jane.evans@saanich.ca if you have questions or comments.

 

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