Policy Discussion Paper #1: Role of Local Government in Promoting Farmlands and Farm Viability - January 2013

 
Policy Discussion Paper #1: Role of Local Government in Promoting Farmlands and Farm Viability - January 2013
CR-FAIR
                                          POLICY
                                          DISCUSSION
                                          PAPER SERIES

      Policy Discussion Paper #1:
Role of Local Government in Promoting Farmlands and
                    Farm Viability
 January 2013
Policy Discussion Paper #1: Role of Local Government in Promoting Farmlands and Farm Viability - January 2013
Acknowledgements

This report is brought to you by CR-FAIR, the Capital Region Food and Agriculture
Initiatives Roundtable. CR-FAIR, is a collaborative initiative of over 30 food and farm
organizations (listed on the back cover) formed in 1997 that is managed by the
Community Social Planning Council. CR-FAIR’s mission is to increase
knowledge of and bring about positive change in the food and agriculture system.
Our work is focused on the following areas: education and awareness raising, networking
and information sharing, capacity building, research, and policy and planning.

CR-FAIR would like to acknowledge Linda Geggie for her work in preparing the report and
the important contributions from many corners including members of the Peninsula
Agricultural Commission and the CR-FAIR Food Policy Working Group. Thanks also to
Deborah Curran at the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Center, for her support
and the efforts of the ELC research students. Special thanks to Rob Buchan and Paula
Hesje, Hesje Consulting for a final review and editing support.

The Capital Regional Food and Agriculture Initiatives (CR-FAIR) Roundtable and the
Community Social Planning Council would like to thank the Real Estate Foundation of
British Columbia and the Vancouver Foundation for their generous support of this project.

For information about this project or the report please contact:
info@communitycouncil.ca

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Policy Discussion Paper #1: Role of Local Government in Promoting Farmlands and Farm Viability - January 2013
Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ............................................................................................................. 1
TABLE OF CONTENTS................................................................................................................. 2
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY .............................................................................................................. 3
OVERVIEW: POLICY DISCUSSION PAPER SERIES ......................................................................... 4
INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................ 7
FOOD SYSTEM PLANNING - AN EMERGING DISCIPLINE FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS .................... 7
  WHY FOOD SYSTEM PLANNING HAS OFTEN BEEN AVOIDED ....................................................................... 8
  WHY FOOD SYSTEM PLANNING IS GETTING ON THE AGENDA IN NORTH AMERICA.......................................... 9
    United States .............................................................................................................................. 9
    Canada ...................................................................................................................................... 10
    British Columbia........................................................................................................................ 11
MESA CONCEPT ...................................................................................................................... 12
 MESA EXAMPLES AND LOCAL MODELS................................................................................................. 14
    Farm Park Pilot, Langley ........................................................................................................... 14
    Examples of MESA within the CRD ........................................................................................... 15
CONTEXT: WHY IS PLANNING IMPORTANT FOR AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SYSTEMS IN THE CRD?
.............................................................................................................................................. 16
TRENDS AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLANNING AND FOOD SYSTEMS ........................................ 21
ROLE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT: JURISDICTION AND TOOLS ..................................................... 22
  JURISDICTION .................................................................................................................................... 22
  TOOLS ............................................................................................................................................. 25
     Regional Growth Strategy/ Regional Sustainability Strategy................................................... 26
     Official Community Plans (OCPs) .............................................................................................. 27
     Zoning Bylaws ........................................................................................................................... 28
     Farm Bylaws ............................................................................................................................. 28
     Development Permit Areas (DPAs) ........................................................................................... 29
     Covenants ................................................................................................................................. 29
     Agricultural Area Plans (AAPs) ................................................................................................. 29
NEXT STEPS ............................................................................................................................ 31
APPENDIX A: GROWTH IN PUBLIC INTEREST ............................................................................ 33
REFERENCES ........................................................................................................................... 34
CR-FAIR MEMBERS ................................................................................................................. 37

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Policy Discussion Paper #1: Role of Local Government in Promoting Farmlands and Farm Viability - January 2013
Executive Summary
With an expanding population and increasing development, farmland in the Capital Region is
under increasing pressure. Food security and building local food production capacity are rising
priorities for the region’s citizens and local governments. The conservation and active use of
farmland for agriculture are amongst the most important policy issues for planning in the region.
The focus of this Policy Discussion Paper is to explore the role that local government (both local
and regional levels) has in food system planning. An awareness of the food system—or the
interlinked network of processes, actors, resources, and policy and regulatory tools required to
produce, process, distribute, access, consume, and dispose of food—and its connection to other
urban systems (such as land, housing, transportation, parks and recreation, etc.) is a critical aspect
of our region’s planning needs.

Planning as a discipline, is oriented to examining an area with a comprehensive look at what is
happening, how the issues confronting the community can be dealt with, and exploring how things
can be improved for the long-term. It is very difficult to remove food system planning from that
lens. This paper briefly looks at the history of planning, why food system planning has often been
avoided and how and why it is now getting on the agenda in the United Sates, Canada, BC and
within the Capital Regional District. There is increasing recognition that many benefits emerge
from stronger community and regional food systems and that local government has an important
role to play. As stated on the Ministry of Agriculture’s website:

Local governments have a pivotal role to play in securing the agricultural land base, enhancing
agricultural awareness, creating a positive regulatory climate within which farming can flourish
     and helping to ensure agriculture continues making an important contribution to local
                                           economies.

This paper presents a relatively new term, that of ‘Municipally Supported and Enabled Agriculture’
or MESA. Examples of MESA in BC and the CRD are detailed and the argument is made as to why
food system planning is needed in the CRD. The Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives
Roundtable (CR-FAIR) has seen initiatives that reveal shifts in planning that demonstrate food
systems are being acknowledged within the purview of local government. Most of the Official
Community Plans (OCPs) of the region’s municipalities now have stand-alone chapters and
strategies to support local food growing and farmland retention. Many of the rural municipalities
have developed Agriculture Area Plans and other initiatives. The Capital Regional District has in
shifting from a Regional Growth Strategy to a Sustainability Strategy as the overarching plan for
the region, approved the creation of a Food Strategy as one of its cornerstone policies.

There are many tools local government can use to address complicated societal issues such as
food access and to plan for the future sustainability of a community. The role local governments
has in promoting farmlands and farm viability through their jurisdictional role and by utilizing
models, tools and strategies is covered in this paper.

The ‘Next Steps’ identified in this Policy Discussion Paper are for Local Governments to try the
following:

1.   Ensure your OCP has a chapter or section on food/agriculture

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Policy Discussion Paper #1: Role of Local Government in Promoting Farmlands and Farm Viability - January 2013
2. Put your ‘food/agriculture’ lens on when reviewing policy and/or making land use decisions
   that will impact (positively and negatively) the local food system and food security within your
   jurisdiction. Can you connect food/agriculture with other local government functions such as
   housing and transportation? Partner with and include key local government stakeholders in
   food systems policy and planning.

3. Educate yourself on food system planning through: workshops that the Planning Institute of
   BC or Ministry of Agriculture and Lands puts on; familiarizing yourself with resources such as
   the recently released American Planning Association’s Guide entitled, “Planning for Food
   Access and the Community-Based Food System”; and by attending a Peninsula Agriculture
   Commission meeting or a local Agriculture Advisory Commission meeting.

4. Develop a cross-appointed, intergovernmental food systems planning staff position, an
   intergovernmental food systems working group, or cross-pollinating working groups to bring
   ideas together

5.   Adopt local food purchasing policies

6.   Inventory available public lands: are these lands appropriate for incubator farms, Ag parks,
     food hubs, or for long-term leases to farmers?

7. Advocate and support food and agriculture planning and policymaking in other levels of
   government, including the support for a Regional Food Strategy and the development of a
   regional agriculture legacy or development fund

8. Support current and future coordination, communication and collaboration efforts via the
   Peninsula Agriculture Commission (or other advisory committee’s) or a Regional Food Policy
   Council

9. Budget and Action – look to planning documents within your jurisdiction that detail action
   items to improve the food system. Can this be included in the next budget discussion? Can
   action be taken and who else needs to be on board to make things happen? How do meeting
   food system targets also help reach targets for climate action, social well-being and economic
   development?

10. Balance aspirational goals with measurable goals to enable monitoring and evaluation over
    time.

This Policy Discussion Paper and associated Policy Brief (condensed version) are available in the
Policy Section of the CR-FAIR page at http://www.communitycouncil.ca/CRFAIR

Overview: Policy Discussion Paper Series

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Policy Discussion Paper #1: Role of Local Government in Promoting Farmlands and Farm Viability - January 2013
The Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CR-FAIR) is a group of 30 food and
farm supporting organizations working towards positive change in the food and agriculture system
in the Capital Region of British Columbia. A focus of CR-FAIR’s work is creating an enabling and
supportive environment for local food production and a sustainable regional food system.
Participation and collaboration from a broad range of actors is required to develop a regional food
system; supportive local government policy and action has helped our community improve the
strength and resilience of our food system. CR-FAIR aims to explore how an emerging concept and
practice coined ‘Municipally Supported and Enabled Agriculture’ (MESA), can support and grow
the viability of our regional food system1. The concept is that:

      Local governments can enhance and support local-scale, human-intensive, environmentally
      sound agri-food systems that can have direct and positive impacts on local and regional
      economies, protect and preserve farmland against urban sprawl, and promote increased
      food production, distribution and consumption self-reliance2.

In the Policy Discussion Papers and companion Policy Briefs, we examine one of the most pressing
issues in our region: agricultural landuse and the opportunity local government has in working
towards long-term systemic solutions to the challenges of land conservation and access to that
land. These papers outline different approaches or models to reach that goal.

The ‘Policy Discussion Paper Series’ includes the following Policy Discussion Papers and associated
Policy Briefs:

    1. Policy Discussion Paper One: Role of Local Government in Promoting Farmlands and
       Farm Viability
    2. Policy Discussion Paper Two: Regional Farmland Conservation and Access Program
    3. Policy Discussion Paper Three: Agriculture Parks Model for the CRD
    4. Policy Discussion Paper Four: Farm Incubators: Growing Access to Land and Mentorship
       for New Farmers in the CRD
    5. Accompanying Policy Briefs that summarize each Paper

The first paper examines the role Local Government has in supporting and enabling our regional
food system. Increasingly Local Governments are taking a more comprehensive approach to local
food system planning and using different tools and strategies to address many of the challenges
that agriculture faces. We propose that Local Governments look closely at their current
approaches in promoting local food systems and examine opportunities to incorporate additional
innovations in planning and action in their jurisdictions.

Each of the other three Discussion Papers put forward strategies to accompany tools and actions
currently being used by local governments, with a particular focus on fostering development of
new farmers, protecting farmland into the future, supplying long-term access to land, and
inevitably increasing local food production capacity. The Discussion Papers explain the concepts,
provide examples, and examine policy and action opportunities. Recommendations are made in
each paper for ‘Next Steps’ to explore these ideas in the Capital Region. The four papers should

1
  Mullinex, K. 2008. Agricultural Urbanism and Municipal Supported Agriculture: A New Food System Path for
Sustainable Cities. Paper prepared for the Surrey Regional Economic Summit, September 18, 2008.
http://www.kwantlen.ca/__shared/assets/2008_Agricultural_Urbanism10654.pdf
2
  Ibid.
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provide excellent fodder for discussion during the Regional Sustainability Strategy process. Each
of the Policy Discussion Papers is summarized in a Policy Brief.

Who is the Audience?
CR-FAIR would like these Discussion Papers and Policy Briefs to be a resource for those interested
in the role of local governments in regional food systems3. All four papers are laden with tools,
models and examples which provide a springboard for discussion and action by communities, the
agricultural sector, local governments, and funding agencies. There is much to investigate and
much to be gained from local government involvement and leadership in food system policy and
planning.

Our Aim - Stimulating Thought, Discussion and Action
A sustainable food system is one in which food production, processing, distribution, consumption
and the disposal of end products are integrated to enhance the environmental, economic, social
and nutritional health of a particular community and place. There is a critical need in our region to
improve all aspects of our food system. This series examines the production (landuse) end of this
spectrum, and how our local governments can develop long-term strategies that can ensure
regional capacity for producing locally produced foods into the future. It is CR-FAIR’s objective to
see this series read, discussed and investigated by the public, food and agriculture organizations,
and from those at the local, regional and provincial government level. Next steps are listed in each
paper and CR-FAIR will be following up on these within the process of the Regional Sustainability
Strategy, and in promoting such policies and actions in the future.

3
    ‘Local government’ includes both local and regional governments in the CRD
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Introduction
This Policy Discussion Paper looks at the critical issue of land use policy and planning in our region
and what local government can do to support its current and future success. There has been a
shift in public interest and also correspondingly in planning as a discipline, that looks to
incorporate values of social well being that are interrelated with ecological stewardship and
economic development into planning, governance, and regulation. There is a growing movement
in Food Systems planning that decrees a much more involved role for local government; a role
with more responsibility, possibly more innovation, and an increasingly comprehensive lens in
which to view current and long term planning. This Discussion Paper examines more specifically,
the role local governments have in promoting farmlands and farm viability through their
jurisdiction and by utilizing models, tools and strategies. The scope of this discussion has not
included a more extensive list of actions to cover the food system; for example local governments
can be involved in activities promoting processing and distribution infrastructure which is crucial
to the efficacy of a regional food system, as well as a range of initiatives related to food, health
and social well being that fall within the local government jurisdiction

Food System Planning - an Emerging Discipline for Local Governments
Municipalities in the CRD have been increasingly               Incorporating food into
active in food and agricultural planning in recent             planning needs political will,
years. Many municipalities have Official Community             and this comes from
Plans (OCPs) with stand-alone chapters and strategies          acknowledgement that food is              to
support local food growing and farmland retention;             a public priority and an integral
rural municipalities have also developed Agriculture
                                                               part of health, economics, and
Land Inventories and Agriculture Area Plans.
                                                               the social well-being of
 The discipline of planning is quite diverse. The
                                                               residents.
Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning delivered                                                  a
report, “Anchor Points for Planning’s Identification” 4,5 that identified six generic themes that
anchor planning’s identity as a discipline. Two of these are relevant to our examination of the
intersect of local government and food/agriculture:

        “a focus on improvement of human settlements . . . with emphasis on making places
         better serve the needs of people,” and
        “a focus on interconnections among distinct community facets, incorporating linkages
         among physical, economic, natural, and social dimensions, linkages among sectors, e.g.,

4
  Myers, D. (1997). Anchor points for planning’s identification. Journal of Planning Education and Research
16(3): 223-224.
5
  Pothukuchi, K. and Kaufman, J.L. 1999. Placing the food system on the urban agenda: The role of municipal
institutions in food systems planning. Agriculture and Human Values 16: 213–224.

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transportation and land use, housing and economic development etc., and public and
         private enterprises.”

The ‘needs’ of people are air, water, shelter and food. If planners identify and believe in these
stated themes and if they are truly concerned about the improvement of human settlements,
there is a clear mandate to incorporate food and agricultural issues into their policy and planning.
Planning as a discipline, is oriented to examining a chosen area with a comprehensive look at what
is happening, how the issues confronting the community can be dealt with, and exploring how
things can be improved for the long-term. It is very difficult to remove food system planning from
that lens.

Why Food System Planning Has Often Been Avoided

An American Planning Association journal points to several reasons why planners have paid less
attention to food issues when compared with long-standing planning topics such as economic
development, transportation, housing, water and waste. Among these reasons are6:

    1.  A view that the food system — representing the flow of products from production, through
       processing, distribution, consumption, and the management of wastes, and associated
       processes — only indirectly touches on the built environment, a principal focus of
       planning's interest;
    2. A sense that the food system isn't broken, so why fix it; and,
    3. A perception that the food system meets neither of two important conditions under which
       planners act — i.e., dealing with public goods like air and water; and planning for services
       and facilities in which the private sector is unwilling to invest, such as public transit,
       sewers, highways, and parks.

Pothukuchi and Kaufman7 also add a few more reasons:

    4. The average urban resident undoubtedly takes food for granted as availability is usually
       not a problem (linked to #2 above)
    5. The historic process of urbanization in North             When something is not
       America, a process that led to the definition of       formulated as a problem -as
       certain issues as quintessentially urban. Food         housing or transportation is
       systems not being one of them.                          – or if it is not perceived to
    6. The technology of transportation, refrigeration,         be a crisis, it is less visible
       and processing together with abundant and               (Pothukuchi and Kaufman 1999)
       cheap energy made up for the loss of local
       agricultural land as cities grew. As long as food
       flowed into the suburbs, where more and more Americans were beginning to live, and
       central city food stores were well stocked, food was not a problematic issue. The urban
       food system was still taken for granted. It was a low visibility system in the urban context.
    7. The dichotomization of public policy into urban and rural. To the average person and even
       to most planners – as is becoming evident in a currently ongoing study – food issues are
       generally seen as falling within the purview of rural policy, applying mainly to farmers.

6
   American Planning Association. 2007. Policy Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning. Retrieved
December 2012. http://www.planning.org/policy/guides/pdf/foodplanning.pdf
7
  Ibid.
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Why Food System Planning is Getting on the Agenda in North America

United States

There are, a number of “converging factors that explain the heightened awareness among
planners that the food system is indeed significant” for planners and local government:

       A growing recognition of the role local food systems play in the sustainability of
        communities, regions, and the globe
       Recognition that food system activities take up a significant amount of urban and regional
        land
       Awareness that planners can play a role to help reduce the rising incidence of hunger on
        the one hand, and obesity on the other
       Understanding that the food system represents an important part of community and
        regional economies
       Awareness that the food Americans eat takes a considerable amount of fossil fuel energy
        to produce, process, transport, and dispose of
       Understanding that farmland in metropolitan areas, and therefore the capacity to produce
        food for local and regional markets, is being lost at a strong pace
       Understanding that pollution of ground and surface water, caused by the overuse of
        chemical fertilizers and pesticides in industrially based production agriculture adversely
        affects drinking water supplies
       Awareness that access to healthy foods in low-income areas is an increasing problem for
        which urban agriculture can offer an important solution
       Recognition that many benefits emerge from stronger community and regional food
        systems8

Interestingly, the American Planning Association also records these shifts in its members and
focus:

“In 2005 at the APA National Planning Conference in San Francisco, a special track of sessions on
food planning subjects was held for the first time in APA's history. An unexpectedly high number of
80 planners responded to the call for papers for this track. In 2006, a follow-up track of sessions
took place at the San Antonio APA conference. Special journal issues devoted entirely to food
planning have included the Journal of Planning Education and Research (Summer 2004) and
Progressive Planning (Winter 2004). Courses on community food planning are being offered for the
first time by several graduate planning programs9.

8
  American Planning Association. 2007. Policy Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning. Retrieved
December 2012. http://www.planning.org/policy/guides/pdf/foodplanning.pdf
9
  American Planning Association. 2007. Policy Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning. Retrieved
December 2012. http://www.planning.org/policy/guides/pdf/foodplanning.pdf
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An APA Policy Guide, “Policy Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning”, suggested
avenues for planners to become engaged in community and regional food planning, some of which
are being implemented in the CRD already. A few suggestions are identified here10:

        Land use planners may use growth management strategies to preserve farm and ranch
         land; or recommend commercial districts where restaurants and grocery stores are
         located; or suggest policies to encourage community gardens and other ways of growing
         food in communities.
        Economic development planners may support the revitalization of main streets with
         traditional mom-and-pop grocery stores; or devise strategies to attract food processing
         plants to industrial zones.
        Transportation planners may create transit routes connecting low-income
         neighbourhoods with supermarkets.
        Environmental planners may provide guidance to farmers to avoid adverse impacts on
         lakes and rivers.

     This Guide accurately states:

                 How planning operates to balance the need for an efficient
               food system with the goals of economic vitality, public health,
                ecological sustainability, social equity, and cultural diversity
               will present a formidable challenge to planners who engage in
                 community and regional food planning, and in planning for
                various community sectors such as transportation, economic
                             development and the environment.

Canada

This change in interest in planning is also reflected by work and priorities set out by the Canadian
Institute of Planners (CIP), that is represented by 7,000 planners across Canada. Wayne Caldwell
wrote “The Evolving Nature of Agricultural Production: Implications for Planners” for Plan Canada,
Journal of the Canadian Institute of Planners11. The report summarizes key issues and trends
identified by the author at the CIP/OPPI annual conference in Niagara Falls and adds to the
spectrum of papers included in the summer 2009 issue of Plan Canada, which was devoted to
planning for food.

The report concludes that there are at least three scenarios with which planners must concern
themselves12:
            1. There are various courses of action that must be considered that reflect

10
   Ibid.
11
   Ibid.
12
   Caldwell, W. 2009. The Evolving Nature of Agricultural Production: Implications for Planners. Plan, Journal
of the Canadian Institute of Planners. p 43-47
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current issues in agriculture. Urban expansion, farmland preservation, and natural
                areas protection are examples of activities that concern planners across the
                country today.
             2. The evolving issue of “local food”, urban and peri-urban food as well as the role of
                food in contributing to healthy, sustainable rural and urban communities
                necessitates the need for planners to be involved.
             3. The broad trends related to climate change, peak oil, as well as shifting
                environmental and economic systems that have the potential to unleash
                unparalleled change in food systems and potentially within communities must be
                heeded.

Nationally, there has also been the emergence of the Planning for Agriculture and Food Network
(PAFN)13 that was developed on the heels of the World Planners Congress that was held in
Vancouver in June 2006.

        “The vision of the Planning for Agriculture and Food Network (PAFN) is sustainable
        agriculture and food systems. To that end, members of PAFN seek to fully integrate
        agriculture and food systems into rural and urban sustainability planning worldwide by
        actively advancing the skills and knowledge of practitioners and professional planners”.

In 2010, the Canadian Institute of Planning recognized food on the planning table as Janine De La
Salle was named Young Planner of the Year for her work related to a planning framework that
municipalities can adopt to improve food security. This concept is explored further in a book she
co-authored entitled, “Agricultural Urbanism: Handbook for Building Sustainable Food Systems
                       14
in 21st Century Cities” .

British Columbia

British Columbia’s, Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (MAL) recognizes the important role that
local governments can play in agriculture and food systems development, as shown by the
development of the ‘Strengthening Farming Program15’ dedicated to supporting local governments
to plan for agriculture and provide special tools and supports to undertake this role.

They see the role of local governments in the following way16:

         LOCAL GOVERNMENTS HAVE A PIVOTAL, ROLE TO PLAY IN SECURING THE
      AGRICULTURAL LAND BASE, ENHANCING AGRICULTURAL AWARENESS, CREATING
      A POSITIVE REGULATORY CLIMATE WITHIN WHICH FARMING CAN FLOURISH AND
         HELPING TO ENSURE AGRICULTURE CONTINUES MAKING AN IMPORTANT
                        CONTRIBUTION TO LOCAL ECONOMIES.
13
   To join the network and listserve, please send an email request to Jim Hiley at hileyj@agr.gc.ca as of
November 2012
14
   http://greenfrigatebooks.com/books/
15
   http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/resmgmt/sf/
16
   Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. Webpage retrieved June 10, 2012
http://www.alc.gov.bc.ca/publications/planning/Planning_For_Agriculture/Chapter04/0402reference.html
11 | P a g e
Further examples of opportunities to plan for agriculture are included on their webpage17 and
discussed in “Jurisdiction and Tools’ on page 22 of this Paper.

This diagram18 displays the myriad of connections between planning and agriculture, although as
noted, this paper only examines the land use end of this spectrum. Food and agricultural public
policy and planning does intersect with other levels of government and jurisdiction in many other
dimensions including health and safety, labour, and trade.

MESA Concept
Emerging from this relatively new look at urban and peri-urban based planning approaches for
local governments is a concept coined Municipally Supported and Enabled Agriculture, or MESA.

17
   Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. Webpage retrieved December 2012.
http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/resmgmt/sf/planag/index.htm
18
   Ontario Farmland Trust. 2010. Planning Regional Food Systems. Retrieved December 2012.
http://www.ontariofarmlandtrust.ca/sites/default/files/Planning_Regional_Food_Systems_FinalJanuary25.p
df
12 | P a g e
This concept is gaining popularity among planners and food security and sustainability advocates,
and is increasingly being demonstrated by municipalities across Canada.

The concept is that:

      “Local governments can enhance and support local-scale, human-intensive, environmentally
        sound agri-food systems that can have direct and positive impacts on local and regional
     economies, protect and preserve farmland against urban sprawl, and promote increased food
                      production, distribution and consumption self-reliance.19”

Kent Mullinex, Ph.D. and Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security with the Institute
for Sustainable Horticulture at Kwantlen Polytech University is engaged in research and
development to advance sustainable agriculture and food systems. Mullinex presented his paper
entitled, “Agricultural Urbanism and Municipal Supported Agriculture: A New Food System Path for
Sustainable Cities” at the Surrey Regional Economic Summit in 2008, which outlines this idea20.

             Mullinex outlines that one of the core tenants of MESA is the ability of Local
             Governments to foster increased food security and sustainability by ensuring
             that we have a stable and productive land base that is accessible to farmers.

Some examples of how MESA can be applied21:

       1. Municipalities could make
                                                Municipalities will play an increasingly
          available, at cost effective rates,
                                                key role in stewardship of the public good
          municipally-owned lands (of
                                                and, through the municipal approvals
          various sizes, shapes and locals)                                                        for
                                                processes, can ensure that development
          agriculture enterprise. It might                                                         even
                                                of all kinds, in accordance with local
          be that municipalities procure                                                           lands
                                                policy, address the objectives of
          to facilitate the development of                                                         an
                                                Agricultural Urbanism; an agri-food
          agri-food sector serving its
                                                system that supports urbanism, and
          citizenry, and in doing so foster
                                                urbanism that supports the agri-food
          increased food safety and
                                                system.
          security. The city could be the                                                          entity
                                                Mullinex 2008.
          that connects would-be
          agriculturists with lands.

       2. Other potential MESA efforts include the provision of incubator farm plots (explained in
          Discussion Paper #4). Small municipally-owned tracts could be favourably leased to trainee
          producers so that they can gain critical crop-specific knowledge and experience before
          committing significant capital and other resources in the development of speculative

19
   Mullinex, K. 2008. Agricultural Urbanism and Municipal Supported Agriculture: A New Food System Path
for Sustainable Cities. Paper prepared for the Surrey Regional Economic Summit, September 18, 2008.
20
   Ibid.

21
     Ibid.
13 | P a g e
agriculture enterprises. University expertise could support such skill/ knowledge
         acquisition.

     3. Similarly, an incubator kitchen for exploration into, or start-up production of value-added
         agriculture products could be a part of the overall municipal-university- private
         partnership. Those wanting to experiment with, or develop a processed value-added
         agricultural product could rent commercial processing/kitchen facilities for product
         development and business start-up, and have access to university expertise/support.

Municipally-facilitated and based Agricultural Urbanism22 strategies such as those outlined above
represent logical and requisite complements to British Columbia’s unique and successful
Agricultural Land Reserve legislation.

MESA Examples and Local Models
Farm Park Pilot, Langley

The Institute of Sustainable Horticulture (ISH) has entered into a partnership with the City of
Langley, BC to assess the viability of a MESA demonstration project utilizing a BC Hydro ‘Right of
Way’. The project was initiated over two years ago when ISH partnering with the Collaborative
Applied Landscape Planning (CALP) team at the University of British Columbia to produce a
concept plan for the City of Langley, which provides an overall vision for the site. This vision sees
the side divided into four distinct zones:

Zone 1: ‘The Entrance’ is an area for public interaction and to host a farmers market, as well as for
demonstration of sustainable accessibility features such as permeable green parking lots and bike
parking.
Zone 2: ‘Demo and Research’, will be an area dedicated to plots for research and demonstrations
of organic gardening features.
Zone 3: ‘Production’ is where community gardens and market gardens will be located and
incubator farm space made available for graduates of the Richmond Farm School and other
Kwantlen agriculture programs.
Zone 4: ‘Natural Systems’ will be an area that will increase the biodiversity of the local area and
provide ecosystem services. The entire site will incorporate flowering hedgerows and connect with
adjacent greenways and habitat corridors. Currently, the project is in the initial start-up phase;
gathering information to convey the nature, elements and purpose of the proposed project.

22
  Agricultural Urbanism prescribes the full integration of the agri-food system within the planning, design,
development and function of cities and vice-versa. Agricultural Urbanism is a mechanism to connect
urbanites to their environment and to their agri-food system, reduce their dependence on an ecologically
unsound and increasingly vulnerable global-scale agrifood system and create a significant regional economic
sector (quoted from Mullinex, K. 2008).
14 | P a g e
Examples of MESA within the CRD

District of Saanich

An example of public land that has been set aside to support agriculture is the Haliburton
Community Farm in Saanich. The District of Saanich purchased Haliburton Farm and leases the
land to the Haliburton Community Organic Farm Society to manage the land. A unique Rural
Demonstration Farm Zone was also established. In another case Saanich leased 8.5 acres directly
to a farm operation between 1984 and 2006. The District of Saanich charged $1,375 plus GST per
year for the land. This approximately covered the costs of setting up and administering the lease1.
This arrangement of using public land provides the opportunity for long-term leases (up to 30
years on crown land). Recently Saanich also purchased Panama Flats that has been farmerd for
over 100 years and is currently determing how these lands will continue in their role for food
production, wildlife habitat and in watershed and storm water management.

City of Victoria

The City of Victoria is partnering with two neighbourhoods on a Community Orchard Pilot Program
and a community centre-based Kitchen Garden Pilot. A Community Orchard is a grove of fruit or
nut trees in a public park where a community group participates in the care, maintenance and
harvesting of the trees. The food that is produced is then shared with the community. The
Kitchen Garden project at the Fernwood Community Centre will transform the centre’s 1800

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square foot front decorative garden beds that are currently maintained by City staff, into edible
food gardens that will be managed by the Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group23.
City of Victoria. November 20, 2012. Press Release

District of Central Saanich

The Newman Farm is a 6.6-hectare (16.3 acre) municipally owned park located within
one kilometre of Saanichton Village, within the District of Central Saanich. Though a
single legal parcel, the Farm is crossed by the Patricia Bay Highway, Central Saanich
Road and Lochside Drive, forming three separate land areas, two of which are located
within the Agricultural Land Reserve. In July 2003 the Newman Farm was officially transferred to
the District of Central Saanich for use as public parkland. A master planning process was
undertaken in 2006/07, in order to provide the District with direction for development and
management of the Farm as parkland. In May of 2012 Central Saanich signed a three year
management agreement with the Farmland Trust to manage the development and operation of
Newman Farm which potentially includes the development of an incubator farm site and post
harvest storage, handling and processing facility.

Context: Why is Planning Important for Agriculture and Food Systems
in the CRD?
Currently there are 1093 farms in the Capital Region District with 1660 farm operators at an
average age of 57.424. Cattle are on 49 of these farms, poultry and egg production on 93,
vegetable and melon farming in 112 farms and fruit and tree nut farming on 177 farms. The full
table of farm industry groups can be found on the Statistics Canada website25. The ALR makes up
about 7% of CRD lands with the Saanich Peninsula comprising about 39% of this land26.

Most farms in the CRD are small to medium sized with 53% of farms under 10 acres, 43% are
between 10 and 129 acres and less than 5% over this size27. In total, local farms generate over $50
million in gross farm receipts28. 729 farms made less than $10,000 and 151 farms made from
$10,000 to $24,999 in total gross farm receipts29.

Although information related to farm production is routinely collected through Statistics Canada
and compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands and BC Assessment, there is also a
significant amount of food production, both commercial and non-commercial that is not reported
and occurs on rural lands not designated as ALR.

23
     City of Victoria. November 20, 2012. Press Release.
24
   Statistics Canada. 2011 Census of Agriculture, Farm and Farm Operator Data. Catalogue no. 95-640-XWE
25
   Ibid.
26
   Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. 2008. The Capital Region District Agriculture Overview. Retrieved May
2012. www.agf.gove.bc.ca using Statistics Canada census data from 1996, 2001, and 2006.
27
    Statistics Canada. 2011 Census of Agriculture, Farm and Farm Operator Data. Catalogue no. 95-640-XWE
28
   Ibid.
29
   Ibid.
16 | P a g e
Urban agriculture has also begun to play an increasing role in regional food systems, with
estimates that urban food production could be contributing up to 25% of fresh fruit and vegetable
supply30. In the Capital Region there are 34 community gardens that have on average 39 growers
per garden (ranging from 6 to 80)31. It is estimated that that a single community garden of about
9 plots can produce over 250 pounds of vegetables per year32.

Many organizations have assessed that we currently produce less than 5% of our regional food
supply. It is estimated that currently we have the ability to produce approximately 10% of our
food for regional residents, if every acre in the ALR was in production33.

Using regularly gathered data for 2006 from Statistics Canada Dr. Aleck Ostry at the University of
Victoria shows that the Saanich Local Health Area was 32.5% self-sufficient for vegetables, 14.3%
self-sufficient for fruit, 26.6% self-sufficient for milk and dairy products, and 27.1% self-sufficient
for meat. Self-sufficiency was calculated for each of
these foods by dividing the production of each of these foods in Saanich by the consumption
demand by the population of Saanich for these foods34.

To further our concern, BC’s Food Self Reliance report states (text box)35:

     To produce a healthy diet based on the recommendations of the Canada Food Guide for
     British Columbians (given existing production technology) irrigated farmland will need
     to increase by 49% in BC by 2025.

There is varying opinion on how self-reliant we need to be in the region. Currently a global food
system supplies sufficient quantities of food at a fairly affordable rate. Many advocates however
are pointing to major concerns with this supply system, not only for its impacts but also its
vulnerability.

Most of our fruit and vegetable imports (roughly 80%) come from California and Mexico36. These
regions are facing ongoing water shortages that also threaten future supply. Recent storm events
and increasing labour costs have seen a related rise in food prices for many items. Compounding

30
   CR-FAIR states this from discussions and information gleaned through Peninsula Agricultural Commission
meetings and regional agrologists.
31
   Capital Regional District. 2010. Food Security. Regional Sustainability Strategy Policy Option Series.
Retrieved December 2012
32
   King County Parks Department Study 2012, retrieved May 21, 2012
http://www.saanich.ca/living/community/afs/communitygardens.html
33
   CR-FAIR states this from discussions and information gleaned through Peninsula Agricultural Commission
meetings and regional agrologists.
34
   Ostry, A. and Morrison K. Food Self-Sufficiency in British Columbia Local
Local Health Areas. In Press, UBC Press.
35
   Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. 2006. BC’s Food Self Reliance.
http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/resmgmt/Food_Self_Reliance/BCFoodSelfReliance_Report.pdf
36
   Industry Canada. Trade Data Online. An Overview of the BC Field Vegetable
Industry. Retrieved December 2012. http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/sc_mrkti/tdst/engdoc/tr_homep.html
17 | P a g e
evidence on the effects of C02 emissions from transportation and a petroleum based food industry
on the climate and the changes to global weather and ecosystems bodes an unknown future for
food production. Large scale production systems are notoriously brutal at reducing biodiversity
which is an important feature in farm adaptability to changing environmental conditions.

Rising fuel prices, and concerns around peak oil would also lead to increased costs for food
transportation. Consideration must also be given to quickly expanding global populations
particularly in Africa, India and China, which will have increasing demands on food supply. We
have already seen food riots (intense in 2008), food shortages and political instability affect food
supply37.

        The question is not how local food systems can supply all of our food,
        but how to ensure that they remain part of our food supply to
        provide assurance and resilience into the future.

The global food system, for all of its faults, has brought a great diversity of food at affordable
prices to our stores 24/7 and culturally, we have grown to expect it. Local farmers with higher
land prices, labour prices, inputs and costs related to forceful health, safety and environmental
regulatory frameworks in BC, find it very difficult to compete in this environment.

Health aspects and the nutritional value of food are being examined in regards to the global food
market. The increase in processed foods now evolving into the mainstays of our diet are often high
in sodium, fat and sugar and are causing a range of health related problems and not surprisingly,
increases in healthcare costs. Chief Medical Health Officer, Richard Stanwick states that obesity
and Heart Disease are increasing in “epidemic like proportions”, and for the first time we are
seeing Type 2 Diabetes (related to diet and lifestyle) in children38. About one-quarter of Canadians
aged 2 to 17 are overweight or obese, and they are expected to live shorter lives than their
parents39.

With this backdrop, many are calling for a re-localization of food systems to ensure some level of
certainty in supply and resiliency. Knowing where your food comes from, how it is produced, and
how to cook with it, is a simple approach that resonates with a growing majority.

37
   Global Issues. Webpage retrieved December 2012. http://www.globalissues.org/article/758/global-food-
crisis-2008
38
   American Diabetes Association. 2000. Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Adolescents. Diabetes Care.
23(3):381-389. Retrieved December 2012.
http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/23/3/381.full.pdf
39
   Standing Committee on Health. 2007. Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids.
http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=2795145&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=39
&Ses=1&File=9
18 | P a g e
Profitability is on the rise for local fruit and vegetable due to increasing demand. It is estimated
that production for the local food sector increased by 4% last year in BC, with even higher ratios
for the Capital Region40.

        Province wide, British Columbia currently imports about half of its food,
        and for most British Columbians increasing local food production above this
        level is a priority, with a recent poll indicating that 91%
        of residents agree that “it is important
        that BC produce enough food so we don’t have to depend on impo
        rts from other places”.
        IPSOS Reid Public Affairs. 2008.

          Canadians See Many Benefits Of Locally Grown Food

          “ According to the majority of Canadians, the many benefits of buying locally
          grown fruits and vegetables - not just the top benefit - are that they:
                  Help their local economy (71%),
                  Support family farmers (70%),
                  Taste better (53%), and
                  Are cheaper (50%).
          Slightly less than half believe each of the following is a benefit of locally grown
          fruit and vegetables:
                  Not genetically modified (48%),
                  Healthier (46%),
                  No chemical / Synthetic pesticides (45%),
                  Safer (44%)
                  Environmentally friendly (43%), and
                  Preserves green belts (41%)
          Similar proportions said each of these is also a benefit of locally grown meat
          compared to 'regular' fresh meat. In addition, 46% of Canadians believe a
          benefit of locally raised meat is that it has no added hormones or steroids.”
          Ipsos Reid. 2006.
          http://ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=3298

40
  Community Social Planning Council. Economic Development Strategy for Agriculture, North Saanich, 2012.
Prepared for North Saanich District Council.

19 | P a g e
Even with these strides forward, major challenges face the viability of the food and agriculture
sector. The great majority of our farmers are reaching retirement age, we have lost vital storage,
distribution and processing infrastructure due to attrition and the price of farmland currently
equals the price of residential lots. Supply management systems for basic food such as dairy, eggs
and meat, while they have created stable farm income, now require farmers to have millions of
dollars of capital investment in quota, and have considerable farm infrastructure to operate. Even
with the majority of farms in the region being small to medium scale, the next generation of
farmers is finding it incredibly difficult to get started and survive.

Access to land remains one of the greatest challenges to new farmers, and also therefore to local
food supply. Twenty farms in the CRD reported having a partnership with a written agreement as
part of their operating arrangements and 291 reported having a partnership with no written
agreement41. These are likely leasing situations. Though we have a considerable amount of land
designated for agriculture, it is not near enough to grow for even a small percentage of our food
needs. In fact, in the last review of agriculture production in the Capital Region, CR-FAIR estimated
that if the region’s land was in full production, we currently only have enough land to produce for
10% of the population. Currently only about 50% of the land we do have designated for
agriculture is in production, and much of this is in hay42.

To add to this situation is the fact that the farmland we do have is under constant pressure in a
growing region. In the last three decades the population of the CRD has more than
doubled, and is expected to increase by another 30% in the next three decades43.
As a result of this development pressure, farmland in the region currently sells for $70,000
to $100,000 an acre, a market value which is equivalent to land used for residential and industrial
uses44. This has led to significant development pressure on the region’s farmland. Farm
succession both within families and to new farmers when farmers want to move or retire is very
difficult. Most are selling their farms as rural estates.

             Much rural agriculture land is becoming estates, priced beyond
             the practical needs of those who want to farm.

The picture for local food and agriculture in the region paints many challenges for farmers and
residents who increasingly believe that local food is integral to the health and wellbeing of
residents, and the economic and social vibrancy of the region. Supporting a resilient and reliable

41
 Statistics Canada. 2011 Census of Agriculture, Farm and Farm Operator Data. Catalogue no. 95-640-XWE
42
 CR-FAIR states this from discussions and information gleaned through Peninsula Agricultural Commission
meetings and regional agrologists.
43
  Capital Regional District. 2009. Strategic Plan 2009-2011.
44
   Geggie, L. & Platt, K. (2009). Our farmlands, Our foodlands, Our future: a findings report on tools and
strategies for ensuring productive and accessible farmlands in the CRD. Victoria, B.C. Canada
http://lifecyclesproject.ca/conferences/focusonfarmlands/Our-Farmlands-Our-Foodlands-Conference-
Findings- Report-07-2009.pdf

20 | P a g e
local food economy through planning, policy and action is an emerging integral role for local
governments in the Capital Region.

Trends and Opportunities for Planning and Food Systems
Over the past decade we have seen a groundswell of interest in examining and partaking in the
breadth and depth of our regional food system (Appendix A points to the growth in public interest
and rang of initiatives in the region). The Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives
Roundtable or CR-FAIR, brings 30 groups and organizations together, including representation
from local government; the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands; and the Vancouver Island Health
Authority. CRFAIR has been working tirelessly on food and agriculture issues for 15 years, more
recently with much collaboration from local government.

We have seen a number of initiatives that reveal shifts in planning that demonstrate that food
systems are within the purview of local government. Most of the Official Community Plans (OCPs)
of the region’s municipalities now have stand-alone chapters and strategies to support local food
growing, and farmland retention. Many of the CRD municipalities have developed Agriculture
Area Plans (Salt Spring Island, North Saanich, Central Saanich, Metchosin and the Juan de Fuca
Electoral Area). Urban based municipalities have developed specific strategies to support farming
and food production. The City of Langford established a development and amenity fee to support
agriculture and agriculture land, and the City of Victoria added food production as an accepted
Home Occupancy activity. The municipality of North Saanich not only has an Agriculture Area
Plan, but a Whole Community Agriculture Strategy and is currently in the process of creating an
Agriculture Economic Development Strategy.

At the Capital Region District, in shifting from a Regional Growth Strategy to a Sustainability
Strategy as the overarching plan for the region, THE CRD APPROVED THE CREATION OF A FOOD
STRATEGY AS ONE OF ITS CORNERSTONE POLICIES. A stakeholder engagement process in
conjunction with CRD staff, came up with core goals for the Food Strategy45:

     1. Protect the land base for food production by securing and expanding the region’s
        farmlands
     2. Increase the viability and diversification of food production while preventing non farm use
        of agricultural land.
     3. Build food processing and distribution capacity to expand the (local) food supply.
     4. Increase food self sufficiency and community resilience.
     5. Work toward environmentally sustainable food systems

This activity at the government level has come from some key drivers. As stated in meetings with
Regional Planning senior staff, these include:

        Growth in public concern

45
  Capital Regional District. 2010. Food Security. Regional Sustainability Strategy Policy Option Series.
Retrieved December 2012 http://sustainability.crd.bc.ca/media/1236/food_security_policy_brief_small.pdf

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   Increase in advocacy from regional organizations
        Provincial Legislation (i.e. Climate Change)
        Championed by elected officials
        Staff expertise and interest
        Challenges in farm viability

Increased interest and mobilization at the regional level has improved coordination, research,
communication and outreach for food and agricultural policy, programs and planning. However,
despite increased interest and support for local food systems we continue to lose the very bones
of our regional food system. The disappearance of farmland, and the barriers to accessing land
that is designated as agricultural land, are among the greatest policy challenges facing in the
region. The next section provides information that can assist local governments in enabling
agriculture by removing hurdles and being proactive about encouraging agriculture.

Role of Local Government: Jurisdiction and Tools
If we are to look at strategies that will address farmland conservation and access issues it is
important to understand the jurisdiction of governments and the tools they have to take action.
This section will provide an overview of how farmland is designated, who governs, related acts,
planning as a discipline and tools that governments have at their disposal.

Jurisdiction
What is designated as farmland?

With an eye to protection of prime agriculture land for food production, in 1972 the Province of
British Columbia established the Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR) and the Agriculture Land
Commission (ALC) was created to oversee these lands. The ALR is a provincial land use zone where
land must be utilized primarily for agriculture production unless specific permission is granted for
other land uses by the ALC. In the Capital Region the ALR accounts for about 7% of the region’s
land base46. Since it was created in 1972, a total of 2,016 hectares of land has been “excluded”, or
removed from the ALR47. It is estimated that only 50% of land in the region in the ALR is actually in
production48. While the ALR has significantly protected the farmland base from development since
its inception, there is concern that it does little to ensure that the land is actually farmed or
accessible to farmers. In addition to land in the ALR, each municipality and electoral area have
various zones that permit agricultural activities, such as “Agriculture” or “Rural Zones”. In urban
areas food production can also be a permitted use in various forms in Residential and Commercial
zones and Parks. The Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) is set out in the Regional Growth

46
   Minstry of Agriculture and Lands. 2008. The Capital Region District Agriculture Overview.
www.agf.gove.bc.ca retrieved May 22, 2012 using Statistics Canada census data from 1996, 2001, and 2006
47
   Ibid.
48
   CR-FAIR states this from discussions and information gleaned through Peninsula Agricultural Commission
meetings and regional agrologists.

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