Jeff Welsh’s reply
Q 1. Kingston General Hospital trucks pre-cooked meals in from Ottawa for its patients. At the same time, City Council has decided that Kingston residents must support the hospital through our taxes.
*Do you think Kingston needs a food procurement policy that makes sense? A local food procurement policy? How can City Hall work to make sure that our institutions - small and large – pay more than lip-service to sustainable local food?
The City of Kingston is not responsible for the food procerement at KGH. However, I agree that it would be preferable for major public institutions in Kingston to work together to develop a local food procerement policy that would be better both for the local economy and for the environment.
a) There is a growing population in Kingston of, low-income and marginalized people who can’t afford to eat, Let alone eat healthy, fresh, local food. Food banks and meal programs tell us that demand just keeps on rising despite generous charitable support throughout our community.
b) At the same time, Kingston area farmers have trouble making a living growing food. Many need off-farm work just to get by.
* What specific policies can City Hall come up with that would help both groups?
There are a number of examples of municipal governments that partner with local community organizations both to improve food security and support local farmers. Susan Belyea is the Director of a local organization I have done some volunteer work with, Loving Spoonful. She and others in the organization have been doing research recently on various programs aimed at food security and local agriculture. Thier Web site can be found here: http://lovingspoonful.org/ The City of Kingston should work with local organizations here in Kingston to map out a strategy for htese issues.
* How big an issue should food security be for City Hall? And Should City Hall allocate financial resources to support organizations dedicated to community food security?
Food security is a basic requirement. The City should definitely allocate resources to ensure that our residents have access to food.
Q 3 One way to promote food security and a sustainable food system is for a city like Kingston to start an official Food Policy Council. It would come up with on-the-ground programs for equitable food access, nutrition, community development and environmental health, and would help to inform municipal policies around issues such as those we’ve been discussing here today.
*What do you think of this idea? Would you commit to working with Council and the community to implementing a food policy council for kingston?
I think that would be a positive step and would support such an endeavour.
Q4. Community Gardens and other forms of Urban Agriculture have been shown to improve eating habits, and build community cohesion in neighbourhoods , supporting more people in growing some of their own food.
Kingston has taken some significant steps forward in the past year or so with a new Community Gardens Policy and so on, but still our Urban Agriculture efforts lag far behind similarly sized cities in Ontario.
*Can you identify 3 Kingston locations that could be considered for developing community gardens?
I would suggest locations in areas with likely need and high density housing. There are several possible locations in Rideau Heights and King's Town District. A location near the clusters of high rise apartments near the eastern stretches of Bath Road could benefit many residents, such as in Elmwood Park, a decommissioned schoolyard in the Hillendale neighbourhood.
Q5. Would you support a bylaw change to allow backyard hens? Why? Why not?
There are several successful examples of municipalities that have supported bylaw changes to allow backyard hens, including in large cities such as Vancouver. The changes do not mean that there are no regulations, merely that they are allowed under certain conditions. To my knowledge there has not been a flood of complaints over them, so I would support a reasonable bylaw change.