North Saanich boasts a wide diversity of agriculture, including vineyards, grain milling, organics, dairy, poultry, greenhouses, nurseries and silviculture.
However, continuing pressure on agriculture – particularly the cost of land and the drive for urbanization – has increased the need for a coordinated community effort to assist farming.
A primary goal of the North Saanich Official Community Plan, completed in 2007, is to support agricultural activities and land uses.
The community’s agricultural advisory committee developed a plan that outlines North Saanich’s agricultural priorities, the potential for increasing the viability of agriculture in the district and a set of recommendations that addresses policy, planning and environmental quality issues.
The planning process, in partnership with the BC Ministry of Agriculture, also enabled the development of a full agricultural land use inventory for North Saanich.
Now the district is moving on to the implementation phase. Mayor Alice Finall says the community response has been overwhelmingly positive and already opportunities for partnerships with neighbouring communities like Central Saanich are emerging.
“We’re trying to grow food and make it profitable for farmers,” says Finall. “The funding from IAF was extremely important to the success of this project. If we can’t feed ourselves, we’re not sustainable. But we can start redesigning our food system locally to work toward making farming economically viable. This plan helps us to do that.”
Funding for this project was provided through former federal adaptation programming.