April 7, 2020

The BC Ecosocialist Party again commended Victoria City Council’s decision to convert municipal nurseries to growing food plants in response to potential future disruptions in the food supply due to Covid-19, especially in the wake of the US government’s efforts to prevent export of lifesaving medical devices. “We need to scale this up and take it province-wide. We face both a danger of food shortages and insecurity and an opportunity to become more food-secure and economically diversified long-term,” explained party spokesperson Alannah New-Small.

The BC Ecosocialists have put forward a comprehensive list of emergency provincial measures that can help address local food security:

  • conversion of seedling facilities currently under contract for provincial reforestation efforts to food crops for both home use and planting on provincially-owned lands; this means
  • ending current industrial, glyphosate-based reforestation practices in favour of natural succession
  • offering alternative contracts to current seedling providers to produce food crops
  • conversion of unused and ornamental provincial lands to food production, using the DeltaPort lease lands model to attract agricultural entrepreneurs
  • partnering with the Young Agrarians movement to attract these entrepreneurs and provide a framework for rapid and affordable land leasing
  • conversion of existing provincial greenhouses and those of arms-length creatures of the government like the Provincial Capital Commission to food crop production
  • new, provincially-funded hiring in for Agriculture departments at BC’s three polytechnics to offer free online courses in gardening and farming to BC residents wishing to expand their participation in food production
  • suspension of all municipal bylaws curtailing the growing of food crops on residential property
  • suspension of all strata council bylaws curtailing the growing of food crops on residential property and on common property
  • standardization of current laws pertaining to food animals on residential property to permit backyard raising of animals already permitted in some municipalities

New-Small, who grew up and has returned to work on her family’s former farm pointed out, “There is a big difference between gardening and farming. That’s why spreading knowledge and expertise must be the centrepiece of any program that expands food production in BC.”

Jennifer Neilson, the party’s chairperson, who was active in supporting Councilor Ben Isitt’s initiative in Victoria added, “there is a lot of leadership coming from local government from this time. Our province needs to start seeing municipal leaders as vital colleagues and policy innovators and incorporating local solutions not just from the South Island but throughout BC.”