Food Security Champions One Step Closer to Seeing the Formation of a Winnipeg Food Policy Council

June 4, 2015

Since 2010, the Canadian CED Network – Manitoba has been working with members such as Food Matters Manitoba and the Manitoba Alternative Food Research Alliance, seeking the establishment of a food policy council. Our amended policy resolution passed in the Fall of 2014 urges “the Province of Manitoba and Manitoba municipalities to create Food Policy Councils mandated to develop and implement a food security strategy in partnership with the local food movement and community agencies.

On Tuesday, June 2nd, city council’s property and development committee accepted a report on urban agriculture that, among other recommendations, suggests:

Food Matters Manitoba hosted community consultations on a food strategy in February of 2015

That the Winnipeg Public Service engage key stakeholders to investigate and provide recommendations related to the formation, role and governance structure of a Winnipeg Food Policy Council, with a mandate of providing continued advice on agricultural and food related policy, including:

  1. Providing research and advisory support towards implementing the direction strategies related to food and agriculture outlined in OurWinnipeg and Complete Communities;
  2. Investigating barriers towards local agricultural production and exploring opportunities towards improving food production and food security;
  3. Preparing a report with recommendations to expand the list of permissible non-invasive agricultural-related uses throughout the City of Winnipeg; and
  4. Assisting in the creation of an Agricultural and Food Security Strategy to address local food production and security issues. The strategy would follow the policy directions for ‘Rural and Agricultural’ lands identified in Complete Communities and respond to food needs as identified in the OurWinnipeg section on ‘Vitality’.

The Canadian CED Network – Manitoba and member Food Matters Manitoba presented to the council committee in support of the report and the recommendations. Action is being taken by municipalities across Canada, correlating with an increased understanding of the importance of local food systems and the integral role available for municipalities to foster their development. For better or worse, the social, economic and environmental sustainability of cities is impacted by municipal food policy.

As articulated in the recent Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba publication, Taking Back the City: Alternative Municipal Budget, Winnipeg 2014, “There are significant benefits available to cities in addressing multi-faceted issues, such as healthcare, nutrition and recreation, with comprehensive policies that recognize the connection between these issues. Health care costs are reduced when the combination of opportunities for recreation and physical activities; access to safe and nutritious food decreases diet-related illness. Hunger is eradicated and tax base increased when the equitable and local distribution, production and consumption of food creates local employment and supports local livelihoods.”

Now that the council committee has tasked the administration with the recommendations in the report, CCEDNet – Manitoba looks forward to supporting our members in engaging with city planners as they engage stakeholders to shape what a Winnipeg Food Policy Council will look like.

See the full “Accommodating the Interest of Winnipeg’s Agricultural Community” – item #9 in the agenda.

Darcy Penner is a Social Enterprise Policy & Program Co-ordinator with the Canadian CED Network. He has been working in community economic development since graduating from the University of Winnipeg with a BA (Honours) degree in Politics. Starting at CCEDNet in 2013, his role has seen him work with member-organizations to pursue a broad policy agenda through workshops, presentations, budget submissions, policy papers and community-organizing, while specializing in supportive social enterprise policy and research – including coordinating the Manitoba Social Enterprise Sector Survey and the Manitoba Social Enterprise Strategy being co-created with the Province of Manitoba. Darcy was also a contributing author to the Alternative Municipal Budget for CCEDNet-Manitoba.