Increasing public awareness about food and farming on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands has translated into two recently completed Agricultural Area Plans.
The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) adopted its agricultural area plan in October 2012, and is working towards implementation.
According to senior planner, Lainya Rowett, the idea originated when the public raised concerns about agriculture while the RDN was updating its Regional Growth Strategy and official community plans.
“Doing the agricultural area plan was absolutely essential to starting to address peoples concerns about agriculture. They want to know what the future of food looks like in our region,” Rowett explains.
The planning process was followed closely by local media, and generated a lot of comment and input from people in the region.
“This document is the voice of our communities, including people who are interested in local food, whether they are eating it, growing it or selling it,” says Rowett.
On Denman Island, the investment in the Denman Island Farm Plan is already paying off.
“I recently met a young woman who moved to Denman because of the Farm Plan,” says Courtney Simpson, Regional Planning Manager (Northern region) with the Islands Trust. “She wanted to farm with her partner, and saw that Denman was a community that valued agriculture. That’s a huge benefit when one of the concerns is attracting young farmers.”
The plan was completed and adopted in November 2012, after nearly three years of consultation and research. The resulting document is a practical roadmap for the future, speaking to how farmers, consumers, and government can contribute to viable and vibrant farming activity on Denman Island. A copy of the plan is available at islandstrust.bc.ca.
Funding: $53,891 through the former federal-provincial Safety Nets framework. (B0016.30, B0016.31)