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Candidates in 2018 Municipal Election Respond to Questions About the Future of Food Security in Brock Township.

by | Oct 24, 2018 | Advocacy, Food Security, Political

Community food security refers to a community’s ability to ensure all people have access to affordable and nutritious food. A coordinated and thoughtful implementation of policies and bylaws can make this possible. It is thus within the powers of a municipality to work toward making their communities food secure. Moreover, with climate change impacting local growing conditions, working towards food security is becoming less of a choice and more of necessity.

With this understanding in mind The Nourish and Develop Foundation is here to promote local food security and self-reliance in Brock Township. In doing so, The Nourish and Develop Foundation has asked candidates campaigning in the 2018 municipal election to respond to questions focused on the future of community food security in Brock Township. While not traditionally thought of as a municipal issue many aspects of community food security fall under municipal jurisdiction. For example, regional development plans, zoning as well as municipal bylaws and permits can all further or hinder community food security initiatives in Brock Township.

To date, Brock Township has no policy reference to the following food security initiatives: community gardens, roof top gardens, bee keeping, urban farms, edible landscapes (including edible plants in municipal garden beds, parks and street urns) as well as not making any reference to adopting or endorsing the 2006 Durham Food Charter (Martin, Drummond and Znajda, 2016: 8-33). This is not to say that these food security initiatives do not exist in Brock Township. With no by-laws for these specific initiatives in place the municipality can and in some cases has approved or denied proposals for these kinds of projects on a case by case basis.

In some ways, municipalities have limited jurisdiction over potential solutions, but they are also faced with the consequences of loosing agricultural land, farmers’ financial struggles, the degradation of natural resources, residents’ uneven access to nutritious food, food affordability and public health problems associated with inadequate or poor-quality diets. It is for these reasons that municipalities are becoming increasingly proactive about food security initiatives. The City of Markham was the first municipality in Canada to adopt a local food procurement policy and mandated that food for certain municipal services and events be partially sourced from local producers (Best Practices in Local Food: A Guide for Municipalities, n.d.). Similarly, the School Food Action Coalition in the Region of Peel formed to increase the availability of Ontario-grown foods in school cafeterias (Best Practices in Local Food: A Guide for Municipalities, n.d.). Lastly, Kawartha Choice FarmFresh and a similar Peterborough program have merged to map and publish the locations of local food producers as well host a farmer-restaurant Speed Dating style event to facilitate networking between local producers and buyers (Best Practices in Local Food: A Guide for Municipalities, n.d.).

Within Brock Township there are allotment and community gardens such as the one available in front of the Brock Community Health Centre in Cannington, there are businesses such as Community Supported Agriculture Programs (C.S.A.’s)  including the Stubborn Farmer operating out of Beaverton, food banks such as the Brock Community Food Bank in Sunderland, as well as community lunches, agricultural fairs and skill building workshops made available by a number of volunteer or non-profit organizations. While there may be a number of independent or collaborative food security initiatives taking root, these projects and programs do not abdicate the municipal government from defining its role in furthering community food security. It is thus important for voters to know how and in which ways their municipal candidates envision the advancement of food security in our community.

Please read the comments below to see what The Nourish and Develop Foundation asked and how candidates responded.

Works Cited

Martin, M.A., Drummond, M., Znajda S.K. (2016). Digging for a Just and Sustainable Food System: A Scan of Municipal Policies Influencing Urban Agriculture Projects across Durham Region. Durham Region, Ontario 2016 Durham Integrated Growers for a Sustainable Community. Accessed on 10/16/2018. Retrieved from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/555e0f61e4b0d488441001b4/t/58863a1fff7c505d7c16d6a9/1485191762061/DIG+-+FINAL+Urban+Ag+Policy+Scan+%28Nov+17+2016%29.pdf

Best Practices in Local Food: A Guide for Municipalities (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.amo.on.ca/AMO-PDFs/Reports/2013/2013 BestPracticesinLocalFoodAGuideforMunicipalitie.aspx

Candidate Responses

Would you support the development of a township-wide food strategy and if so, what do you see as the township’s role in this?

Lynn Campbell- Ward 5 Councillor Candidate

Of course, I would support the development of a township-wide food strategy, as it would be of great benefit to our residents. I see this initiative as a partnership with the township of Brock, the Region of Durham, TNDF, Brock Community Food Banks, and local food producers. We could explore the possibility of enlisting the support of the BEDAC committee, Durham Farm Connections, Durham Region’s Agriculture Strategy and Healthy Eating-Durham Region, to research best practices. I am a strong advocate for sharing information and resources, and joint promotion of programs and services.

Would you support the development of a township-wide food strategy and if so, what do you see as the township’s role in this?

Allan Simpson- Ward 5 Councillor Candidate

I am certainly open to the idea and would welcome conversations to see what such a strategy might look like. I believe that it would need to ensure the availability of assistance within each community. The Council may provide a co-ordination role and/or provide premises if possible within budget limitations. Other ways in which the Township could help may develop in the discussions that would need to take place.

Would you support the development of a township-wide food strategy and if so, what do you see as the township’s role in this?

Chris Shier- Ward 4 Councillor Candidate

I already support programs that promote healthy eating and an overall food strategy. My family works hard with school food programs, both agricultural societies (Sunderland, Beaverton), and food banks.  With my background in agricultural I understand the need for promotion of agricultural as a whole, whether its a traditional family farm, small backyard garden or something in between, all are important. So, what I believe the municipality should be doing is forming partnerships with local service groups, to promote healthy eating, help educate the public the importance of a healthy diet and make it easier and support for everyone to grow/purchase locally growing foods. We see it all the time now that all ages are having health problems because of their diets.  If we help promote a healthy diet, the benefits are endless, from less doctor visits to productivity in the work place.

Would you support the development of a township-wide food strategy and if so, what do you see as the township’s role in this?

Cria Pettingill- Ward 4 Councillor Candidate

The Township of Brock should include food security in its official plan. One of the municipality’s roles would be to help facilitate the conversation with all interested stakeholders, to support applications for funding, to publicly state and update a policy, to help advocate for food security. There is much precedence for this, it certainly leads to healthier communities with reduced burden to the health care system and the Province’s Local Food Policy act and the Municipal Food Policy Network clearly outline the need and responsibility for local governments to support local efforts around food strategies.

Would you support the development of a township-wide food strategy and if so, what do you see as the township’s role in this?

Walter Schummer- Ward 3 Councillor Candidate

While your question is somewhat vague the process of developing a Township wide food strategy only makes sense.  Based on food strategies in other municipalities it would obviously make sense in Brock and Durham Region as a whole especially given our agricultural base.  The Township of Brock would obviously play a role by being an active member of any possible food policy council that may come as a result of the strategy.  The Township could provide assistance through its resources and in cooperation with The Region given that The Region holds responsibility for many local health and social assistance issues which would be an obvious part of a possible strategy.  The Township could also assist in making such a strategy part of the work of other Township committees including the current Sports Council, BEDAC, and others including one of my proposals which would be a new Brock Non-Profit Advisory Committee.  These committees could incorporate aspects of the policy into their mandates.

Would you support the development of a township-wide food strategy and if so, what do you see as the township’s role in this?

William Basztyk- Ward 3 Councillor Candidate

I think a township wide food strategy would be an excellent idea. It should provide a goal to reach in terms of access to food, food banks, co-operation with community organizations and local farmers to name just a few.

The development of this strategy (and operational plan) should be done by a community-based committee composed of:

  • -members from the hub (which may be the organizers of this group),
  • -nutritionists/dieticians,
  • -community health workers,
  • -social workers,
  • -farmers

to name a few.

The development of this strategy and operational plan would then suggest what roles different community groups could play including any suggested role of the township. You may also wish to contact and consult with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) which has some programs in place to connect local farmers who have excess produce with food banks to transfer this produce to the banks.

Would you support the development of a township-wide food strategy and if so, what do you see as the township’s role in this?

Mike Jubb- Ward 1 Councillor Candidate

I believe the Township needs to show commitment to protecting areas that produce food, in-turn supporting food and farms.  Being a candidate for Ward One, a large portion of my constituents are farmers.  I believe agriculture is the backbone of Brock Township and should be supported by the municipality.

How do you envision municipal resources (human, infrastructure, financial) being used to support community food security?

Debbie Bath-Hadden- Mayoral Candidate

To date the Region of Durham has developed a Food Security Document which was developed by their Food Security Task Force, which I was a member of.  Municipal Resources are key in continuing to develop strategies that will enhance our productivity in the various food sources.  Be it, Food Banks, Churches, Hostels, Agriculture, Farm Fresh, Retail or Commercial.  Also, as a member of the Durham Region Agricultural Advisory Committee we review and put forth various food strategies directly to the Planning Committee at Durham Region.  Durham Regions Rural Manager of Agriculture is key into bringing all key sectors and groups together to help develop a seamless food strategy for the Rural areas of Durham Region.

How do you envision municipal resources (human, infrastructure, financial) being used to support community food security?

Jay Yerema-Weafer – – Regional Councillor Candidate

As a rural, agricultural-based municipality, Brock Township has a unique opportunity to develop meaningful strategies & policies that support healthy and sustainable food systems while helping to combat food insecurity often faced by our most vulnerable residents.

There is innovative work that could be done to support the farm and food economy, as well as sourcing funding opportunities and strengthening local initiatives that address this critical need. I look forward to the challenge and opportunity of helping to improve quality of life in Brock for all citizens by addressing the important issue of community food security when elected.

As Regional Councillor, I envision my role as a supportive leader who fosters collaboration & communication in this regard. Together with like-minded individuals, my ultimate goal is to help develop a Community Food Security Plan. This plan would be designed to actively promote small-scale, sustainable agriculture and food growing opportunities for local producers so they can earn a fair price for their products, encourage community gardening, explore the benefits of healthy and innovative food retail, advance food skills training, enhance local food procurement practices and waste recovery initiatives.

How do you envision municipal resources (human, infrastructure, financial) being used to support community food security?

Judi Forbes – Regional Councillor Candidate

I believe there are a number of different ways the municipality can help support food security in this township.

  1. Municipal Gardens
    • Many people who would benefit from a municipal garden do not have the time to plant, maintain and water the garden.  This job would be born by the township
    • As well, we need to:
      • Turn many of our existing flower gardens into vegetable gardens
      • Include vegetables as part of our flower gardens
      • Include herbs as part of our flower gardens
      • Allot more municipal property to be used as gardens
      • Allot municipal property for fruit trees and berry bushes
  2. School Gardens
    • Work with the Durham school boards to create school gardens.
      • This could be part of the curriculum where students learn to create a garden, grow food, and ultimately share this food with others
      • Many school boards do just this.
      • The crops would have to be fall crops such as pumpkin, squash, carrots, corn, potatoes, beets, kale
      • Students could plant in the Spring, the township could maintain the gardens over the summer and the students then take on the maintenance and harvesting in the fall.
      • Students could also maintain the gardens through the summer as part of the community hours.
  3. Food workshops
    • Sponsor food workshops which:
      • teaches nutrition and cooking skills
      • creates a community around food
      • enables the community to come together for family meals
  4. Partnering with farms, care facilities and groceries
    • The municipality would work with local grocery stores and farms to gather food that is not saleable, but still valuable.
    • The municipality could purchase this food at a significant discount to provide it for the food workshops above.
    • This not only helps the farmers and grocers, but also eliminates excessive packaging of the past-their-prime foods for quick sale… so good for the environment as well!
    • The municipality could also work with the long-term care facilities in the township to take left over food from each meal and provide it for the food workshops.
  5. Food hubs in each community
    • Create or rent space in each of the 3 large communities for food hubs.
    • Let’s make it easy for people to get the food they need and create a community around it.