KAMLOOPS – How would you like to have chickens for neighbours?
That is one of the questions city councillors will discuss when they meet Tuesday morning to discuss the draft food and urban agricultural plan, a 66-page document outlining a food systems and urban agriculture plan for the city.
The preliminary groundwork has been done, including stakeholder meetings, public forums and open houses, as well as a media campaign, and it is now up to council to begin the decision making process. Decisions like should residents be allowed chicken coops in their backyards? Do we need more community gardens? Should the city offer curbside compost pickup?
Sustainability has been named as a goal of the city, outlined in the Sustainable Kamloops Plan 2010. The food and urban agricultural plan is a followup of the 2010 plan and, more recently, the Agriculture Area Plan. The report is divided into two components — food systems and urban agriculture. Examples include the diversion of organic waste from landfills, community self-sufficiency, a buy local campaign, promoting horticulture, better access to fresh healthy food and promoting education.
The urban agriculture side of the plan includes a look at urban farms, small plot intensive farming, community gardens, edible landscaping and rooftop gardening. Public systems for the collection of rain water, possible curb-side collection of compost and multiple ideas for education and celebration of Kamloops’ agricultural history are also being explored.
Community gardens on public property were recognized as a high priority. During a survey conducted by the city they found the majority of people in the Aberdeen and City Centre areas believed their community needed communal gardens - and both are getting new community gardens this year. The city suggested not only this, but to support creating gardens in Batchelor Heights, Juniper Ridge, Pineview, and Valleyview where there are not currently any.
It was also suggested to amend the city’s animal control bylaw to allow residents to raise a limited number of hens. The city would also like to consider raising goats and pigs on large, rural spaces within city boundaries. In the same survey, 85.3 per cent of respondents supported allowing urban hens on residential properties and 88 per cent agreed to goats for the purposes of weed control.
The idea was raised of allowing home-based business for the purposes of selling produce or honey, of which 93 per cent of surveyors supported. Allowing the public to come onto private residential properties to purchase home-grown goods would require a new set of regulations.
The possibility of tax exemptions for agricultural production was another suggestion. Earth Angels, an urban agriculture support for seniors and persons with disabilities, similar to the volunteer program Snow Angels was listed as an action item. Also, a yard share program where residents, particularly seniors, with large yards could allow others without access to yards to collect fruit from their trees and garden on their property. The last two years the Gleaning Abundance Project has been run in Kamloops. The project helps people who cannot pick their fruit collect it.
On a list of food system goals and activities 'increased availability of local food' and 'increased access to healthy food for those in need' were deemed of the highest priority to respondents.
Ideas will be brought forward at the council workshop Tuesday, April 21, at 9 a.m. at City Hall. After council’s input Tuesday the plan will go back to the public at two open houses in May. The plan will be revised once more before being brought forward for council to adopt in July.
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