This past Tuesday, Nov. 25th, we brought together ~ 40 municipal government staff from across the North Shore, to hear a panel speak on planning for sustainable food systems. The event was part of a two-year project funded by the Real Estate Foundation of BC, to support implementation of the North Shore Food Charter.
With the endorsement of the North Shore Food Charter earlier this year, we wanted to support staff with implementation of the food charter in their work. We received funding from the Real Estate Foundation of BC to conduct a capacity-building program with elected leaders, municipal staff, and the community around food charter implementation.
In consultation with advisors from the Table Matters Network, we organized a panel discussion with local experts on various aspects (economic, community development, health, built environment) of sustainable food systems.
The objectives of the session were to build awareness and an understanding of the value of a sustainable food system, stimulate ideas and dialogue amongst municipal staff from across the North Shore, and to empower municipal staff and elected leaders to make decisions regarding land use that enable the municipality, homeowners, businesses, or community partners to innovatively contribute to a sustainable food system.
Kim Hodgson, of Cultivating Healthy Places spoke first, on community-based food system planning and access to healthy foods. She was followed by David Van Seters, President of Sustainability Ventures and founder of SPUD, on the economic opportunities presented by local food systems. Next, Zsuzsi Fodor of the Vancouver Food Policy Council spoke on food policy councils, neighbourhood food networks, and urban farming as community development tools, and lastly James O’Neill of the City of Vancouver’s Social Policy Department gave an update on the Vancouver Food Strategy, as well as presenting some recent policy innovations to support urban agriculture in new developments in the city.
A short discussion/Q & A session with panelists followed. Feedback was positive, with participants appreciative of the presentations, and opportunity to connect with the panelists and each other. We all wished there had been more time for discussion.
Moving forward, staff workshops will be completed in each municipality (the City of North Vancouver staff had their workshop immediately following the panel discussion) to identify challenges to planning for sustainable local food systems in each municipality, and identify possible actions, and resources necessary to address these challenges. These workshops will inform three delegations to North Shore Councils in early 2015, and shape how we work to support staff in implementing the charter in our second year of the project.
Thank you to all who attended and made the event a success! We’re looking forward to the next steps.
Below are the panelist presentations and related resources mentioned during the session:
Zsuzsi Fodor: Food for Community Engagement (3.2MB pdf)