Hello Jennifer, here are some answers to the questions:
Q1 This question implies that a system, other than free market trading
and the demand and supply system should be tried to make sure everyone
has enough to eat. I don’t know what the alternate system is. I have
not given this matter enough study, even to begin to lay down a plan
for “local food procurement.” Until you asked the question, I was
relying on the mass-cultivating and mass-marketing and just-in-time
delivery setup that we have to put fresh food on the store shelves.
The trouble is this does not serve low-income people well enough, not
because there is not enough food to go around, but because the cost of
housing takes between 30 and 50 per cent of a poor family’s budget,
and that leaves them with barely enough for clothing, transportation,
sundries, and, food. Thank God for the food banks and the charitable
meal programs in the community and in the schools. You ask what can
City Hall do? It can’t go into the food-supply business. But,
through zoning By-law amendments and/or denying zoning amendments, the
City can mandate that a minimum number of hectares of agricultural
lands be kept in the agricultural category. The next challenge is to
hope a willing cultivator/planter/grower for food production steps
forward to operate a vegetable growing farm, or a dairy farm, or a
meat production farm. Of course, the City also could provide an
incentive program to entice farm produce growers to take over
agricultural lands. Property tax rebates per minimum number of annual
tones of produce, grown, harvested and shipped, could be provided. A
set per centage of the produce would be sold to the mass market
system, and the rest would be channeled into a local/regional
warehouse to be sold at “cost price” to shoppers who brought in
documents ( their income tax assessment ) to prove that they are in
the designated customer group that is entitled to shop for food at the
off-market prices. Perhaps, a plastic card could be issued to these
shoppers. But this system still would require the food banks because
the province’s social support programs, for some people, forces them
to scrimp on their food-intake so they can pay other bills. The above
sounds rather tentative to me, and that’s after typing 382 words.
Q 2 See AQ1 answer.
Q3 I would commit to working with a Local Food Policy Council, as long
as it does not become a go-nowhere, talking-in-a-circle group that
does not really resolve the food shortage in low income households. It
should be the role of the Food Policy group to devise the plan or
program that would be acceptable to the City Council, and would
attract producers into the food-production business.
Q4 Community Gardens are a good low-scale option to provide food that
is more affordable, or free, or can be accessed in return for working
to grow the gardens, sweat-equity gardens as it were. I have one in
my back yard. Poor tomato crop this year, though. I do not know
enough about available empty lands in the city to suggest community
garden sites. Polluted brownfield sites, that we have a number of,
would not be good sites. I think you need to test the arability of
the site, and do a soil analysis, to see whether it would be good for
producing garden vegetables.
Q5 I would not know whether I could support allowing backyard hens in
Kingston until I had heard the other members of Council discuss it,
and until a staff report, based on research into safety, health, etc.
findings could be received.