The Cottonwood fall fair

Kootenay Local Agricultural Society has questions for candidates

KLAS thinks municipal councils can support a more localized and sustainable food system.

The Kootenay Local Agricultural Society (KLAS) would like to encourage Nelson residents and candidates running in the civic elections to think about the role municipal councils can and should play in supporting a more localized and sustainable food system.

The group represents 80 members, including 18 Kootenay Mountain Grown certified farms in the Kootenays. It believes food security or the availability of food and one’s access to it, is an important topic, especially in the face of climate change.

Marvin Work, KLAS chair, wrote to the Star indicating that a report “entitled Wake Up Call: California Drought and BC’s Food Security highlighted how dependent British Columbians are on food imports from California.”

It went on to say in 2010, 67 per cent of BC vegetable imports came from the US, over half of which was produced in California.

“California’s drought is pushing food prices up and decreasing food exports to BC. The recent changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve and the proposed Site C dam also threaten our precious farm land at a time when we need increased food security.”

Nelson council adopted the Path to 2040 Sustainable Strategy in January 2011. According to the City of Nelson website, “it serves as an umbrella document that sets the direction for future policy and planning decisions.”

Food, food security and agriculture is one of 10 focus areas defined in the strategy. It states the goal is for “all Nelsonites to have access to affordable, nutritious food that is produced in a socially just and environmentally sustainable manor. The plan lists four objectives:

1. Ensure availability and accessibility of nutritious whole foods.

2. Participate in a coordinated approach to support farmers’ access to the land and resources they need in order to maximize regional food production, processing and distribution.

3. Support and encourage food production, processing and storage within city limits at both the commercial level and individual level.

4. Inspire a greater understanding of the local /global food system and available resources to build community capacity and to foster more informed, ethical choices.

How council chooses to meet the four objectives is up to them.

Work said people can consider asking candidates the following questions, if they are concerned about food security and would like to see local sustainable food production supported.

Questions include:

  • What role should the Nelson council play in planning and promoting sustainable food systems?
  • What would be your priority project related to food and agriculture over your term?
  • A Food Charter sets out a vision for a health oriented, local and equitable food system. If elected, would you support the adoption of a Food Charter in Nelson?
  • Is protecting farmland for future generations important to you?  Do you agree that all lands in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) should remain within the ALR? Are there other ways to ensure land is available and accessible for growing food into the future?
  • Food production and transportation is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.  How importantly do you rate the production of food regionally, in an attempt to mitigate climate change?
  • Would you support the use of municipal lands and infrastructure to support the development of local food systems, for example for farmers markets, demonstration sites, farm incubators, leasing land to farmers, community gardens, food hub?

The first of three all candidates forums is on Wednesday, November 5, held by the Social Planning Action Network at the Best Western on Baker Street from 7 to 9 p.m. For a complete list of election forums and 2014 candidates, visit nelsonstar.com/news/. The municipal election is November 15.

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