The completion of an agricultural area plan by the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) could be the beginning of an agricultural revival in the region.
The main impetus for the plan stems from a regional sustainability plan approved in 2011, which identified food security as one of the main pillars for achieving sustainability, and set a goal of 20 percent food self-sufficiency by 2020.
A background report produced in 2012 focused on the agricultural opportunities and challenges in the region, and formed the basis for an extensive public engagement effort that shaped the final agricultural area plan.
“This is probably the most collaborative plan ever developed by the Regional District,” says Gregory Gebka, planner with the SCRD. “It throws it out to the community to really come forward to cooperate and collaborate in its implementation.”
So far community groups have been eager to pick up the challenge. The local food policy council is using the plan to focus their efforts on action items having relevance to food policy, including the development of a community food charter. The Sechelt Rotary Club has identified agriculture as their area of focus for the next year. Within the agriculture community, local producers are now considering establishing a local farmers’ institute to help organize their involvement.
The plan identifies 109 action items grouped in six areas of focus to grow agriculture in the region:
- Protect farms, improve farming opportunities, and expand access to land for agriculture.
- Secure a sustainable water supply for agriculture.
- Develop a viable Coastal food system.
- Educate and increase awareness of Coastal food and agriculture.
- Advance and promote sustainable agriculture practices.
- Prepare for and adapt to climate change.
“When it comes down to it, the ag plan is all about increasing Coastal food production and consumption to enable a more sustainable food system on the coast,” says Gebka. “This is a great opportunity for leaders to come forward and express themselves in terms of what they represent in the community, and what the ag plan aspires to do.”
Funding: $45,000 through the former federal-provincial Safety Nets framework. (A0690, B0016.37)