Is Alberni’s food secure?

Droughts across Vancouver Island strengthen the case for a city food committee.

A stage three drought on Vancouver Island has Jen Fisher-Bradley of the Women’s Food and Water Initiative worried about the security of our food supply. Fisher-Bradley is especially concerned given the current drought situation in California, one of the main importers of food to the region.

“We do really need to think about this [drought,] is it an ongoing trend,”  Fisher-Bradley asked during a presentation to city council earlier this month.

“In many jurisdictions across the province, the country and the continent, food security is an issue increasingly on people’s minds.”

Eight years ago, Fisher-Bradley brought a proposal for a climate change committee to city council. This month she asked council to authorize a food committee to help address concerns on a local level.

“Combined pressures of climate change and inequality make us wonder if there will be adequate nutrition available and accessible to all.”

Citing the urban farming bylaw as a good first step, she told council that more actions needed to be taken and that a food committee, chaired by a city councillor and aided by city staff, could take charge of those steps.

A food committee “could find creative ways to encourage and help support these urban farmers,” including increasing productivity, soil health and preparing for droughts.

Coun. Jack McLeman voiced his approval for the idea but suggested that Fisher-Bradley speak with the Young Professionals of Alberni Valley, who run the Dry Creek Community Garden.

“Any day we could have our earthquake here and have our roads closed,” said Coun. Wendy Kerr.

In response to Coun. Rob Cole’s suggestion that Fisher-Bradley contact the regional district, Kerr said that the city faced different challenges with regards to urban farming.

“It’s a little harder for people within the city, particularly with lower incomes that may not own their land or apartment dwellers.”

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