Urban farmers pleased with city bylaw changes

Urban farmers can now grow and sell their own food

Jesse Brown of the Mason Street City Farm tends to tomatoes growing in the garden.

Local urban farmers are rejoicing about the ability to grow and sell their own food, after Victoria city council recently passed a number of bylaw changes allowing them to do so.

“I’m happy to see it happen, I think it’s a totally necessary step and something that the community of Victoria was really asking for,” said Julia Ford, an urban farmer with City Harvest and Welland Legacy Orchard.

Council recently passed a number of bylaw changes that would expand the range of potential sites for new urban food production businesses to include commercial areas, vacant lots, residential properties, rooftops, institutional properties and other underused sites.

Those wanting to sell food, however, are required to obtain a business licence for offsite sales (such as retail locations and restaurants) and on-site sales (such as food stands and farm box pick-up locations). A year-long licence would cost $100 while a three-month licence is $25. The change eliminates the need for a development permit.

The changes also permit the loading of small-scale commercial urban food production products into a delivery truck one time per day.

“It allows us to operate with more security. We have more clarity with our neighbours, more clarity with our customers about what we’re doing. It just means that we can have more clarity and people have more access to our services,” Ford said.

“The important thing is to position affordable food alongside affordable housing. To me, both of those things go hand in hand.”

Jesse Brown, co-owner of Mason Street City Farm, said the changes allow him to legally set up a farm stand outside his business and sell his fresh produce to residents.

“I think that if any time a barrier is removed from being able to produce or sell food in the city, there will be that one more person, or those 10 or 20 more people who won’t get their operation shut down and will feel more comfortable producing and selling food,” he said.

“It opens up the door for more secure business options for different people.”

However, the changes did not come without challenges.

Originally, staff recommended changing the wording in the official community plan to make urban farmers “subservient to the density, built form, place character, and land use objectives,” which drew the ire of many who came to speak against the proposed changes during the September council meeting. In the end, council voted not to change the wording.

Mayor Lisa Helps said she overlooked the impact the language could have, adding there shouldn’t be a constant dichotomy between farmers and developers, but instead they need to work together to encourage food production in the city.

“The whole point of trying a new approach to a topic is that we put out a whole bunch of ideas. Some of them are really good ideas and some of them are bad ideas, that’s where we rely on the public to help guide us through the process,” said Helps.

“No part of the plan should be subservient to any other part of the plan. That makes good sense if we’re trying to build a sustainable community”

Ford said the changes are a good first step, but added more policy changes are needed to strengthen and expand the sector, including more progressive policy around land-use, policies that add protection to urban farming areas, and specific targets in the community plan.

The changes are part of the Growing in the City initiative to enhance local urban food systems on both public and private land.

 

 

Just Posted

Island Health warns of whooping cough at Esquimalt’s Macaulay Elementary

Island Health is urging parents to watch out for signs, and to keep immunizations updated

Council tags two more Oak Bay homes for bylaw infringement

Monterey homeowner covers front yard in gravel and stone

Pacific FC parts ways with head coach before season’s end

Club says the parting is mutual and takes effect immediately

Federal Election 2019: What you need to know in the Victoria riding

Meet your candidates and more information on how to cast your ballot

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

Campbell River homicide suspects arrested in Vancouver

Two men remain in custody, but have not been charged

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

Vaccinations are a requirement to attend class in Ontario and New Brunswick, while B.C. launched a demand this fall

ELECTION 2019: How would the major parties address Canada’s housing crisis?

Promises include speculation taxes, more affordable housing, and declaring housing a human right

Most Read