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Salmon Arm council gets ball rolling on food security plan

‘It’s the commitment to prepare to do the work…’
Salmon Arm council supported a motion directing staff to begin work towards the advancement of a Food and Urban Agriculture Plan at its meeting on Jan. 22, 2024. (File photo)

The issue of food security was back on the table at Salmon Arm council with a motion to have staff begin work that could lead to the creation of a Food and Urban Agriculture Plan.

Coun. David Gonella tabled the motion at the Jan. 22 council meeting. Introduced as a Notice of Motion at council’s Jan. 8 meeting, the request to advance a Food and Urban Agriculture Plan was preceded by a number of points explaining what food security (and insecurity) is and the affects it can have.

“It is widely acknowledged that food insecurity is a significant societal health problem that is associated with poor health outcomes, and is an obstacle to social, emotional and psychological well-being,” read the motion, which goes on to note factors affecting food security are complex and can include income, employment and housing. “At the community-level, food supply chains (e.g. production, storage and transport), food costs and shared cultural values are just some factors that impact the accessibility, availability and nutritional adequacy of food.”

The motion also points out how climate change is exacerbating matters through destabilizing weather patterns needed for crop production, “resulting in drought and more violent storm systems throughout Canada.”

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“After conversations with the Agricultural Advisory Committee and working through their terms of reference… we identified that food insecurity is a huge issue we would like to address either through support for education or for other programs,” said Gonella. “But at this time we would like the support of council for the advancement of a Food and Urban Agriculture Plan, working with staff on the scope and funding opportunities and reporting back to council by July 2024.”

Council was supportive of the motion and its timing.

“After the events of the last couple of years, between Covid and the weather events that shut down the transportation routes between here and the coast, I think we have a pretty good idea of what food insecurity can look like, and we have an opportunity here to do a much better job of securing our local food supplies and setting up emergency responses and back up plans for when events occur that cut off our supply. So I’m really looking forward to moving this forward,” said Coun. Sylvia Lindgren.

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond noted council has discussed food security in the past in relation to the city’s Corporate Strategic Plan, on which a Food and Urban Agriculture Plan is currently ranked as a medium-term priority (2025-2027).

“I’ve also voted not to move it up in priority, but I think if the housing crisis taught me anything, it’s that some things are less straightforward than others, so as cities… we also have a role to play and figuring out what that role is, we need to do this kind of prep work and to me that’s what this motion is,” said Wallace Richmond. “It’s the commitment to prepare to do the work…”

Regarding staff reporting back to council in July, Mayor Alan Harrison asked city administrator Erin Jackson if that is a timeline staff is comfortable with.

“I do think it would be too tight to bring something comprehensive, but it is enough time to get sort of a lay of the land in terms of funding opportunities and what that could look like for council to contemplate including in the 2025 budget,” said Jackson. “I think that the July meeting will be the first kind of introduction of what does this look like, and then it will be a continuing conversation into 2025.”

Council voted unanimously in support of the motion.

Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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