Council gets a taste of the food security issue

By David F. Rooney
Revelstoke is a community that takes good food seriously. That’s apparent by the growth of private and community gardens, the existence of the Local Food Initiative, a public seed library and public discussion about food security.
How much further can food as an issue be taken? How about all way to City Council? That’s where consultants Hailey Ross and Fraser Blythe brought the discussion this week.
Their presentation (Please click here to view it in PDF format) outlines the history of the food security discussion in Revelstoke, the development of a Food Security Charter and the need for a Food Security Strategy. They said there are nine reasons why Revelstoke should adopt a Food Security Strategy:

  1. Increasing Dependence on Global Food Systems;
  2. Food Quality;
  3. Rising Food Costs and Unequal Access to Food;
  4. Access to Productive Agricultural Land;
  5. Declining Food Skills and Knowledge;
  6. Loss of Localized Food Cultures;
  7. National and Provincial Food Regulation;
  8. Globalized Food Economies;
  9. Ecological Costs of Agriculture;
  10. Climate Change; and
  11. Food Waste.

A food security strategy would act as insurance against an unforeseen emergency. As it is, if something were to happen Revelstokians would be very vulnerable because abut 95 percent of the food we eat comes from elsewhere.
“That vulnerability is not a very comfortable place to be,” Ross said during the presentation adding that “Food security is a growing concern across the world.”
Ensuring widespread access to high quality food is also an element of local poverty reduction efforts. Taking these public efforts to the next level will require effort and money. They recommended:

  • The appointment of a community liaison to the winter and summer farmers’ market boards;
  • Amending the animal control bylaw to permit the keeping of chickens and other livestock for food with city limits;
  • Hiring a food security coordinator and the establishment of an online food security information hub;
  • Developing a community compost system; and
  • Developing long-term funding to support the access to high quality food by seniors and low-income families.
  • Their presentation and recommendations were referred to Council’s Administration Committee for review.

You can watch Hailey and Fraser’s full presentation to Council by activating the YouTube player below. Their presentation begins at about the 12-minute mark: