Saanich could be first in region to “buy local”

Saanich first in region to go ‘local’ on food
Kim Westad, Times Colonist

Saanich is set to become the first municipality in the region to focus on local food for its events, moving toward having the same for all its food services.

Coun. Dean Murdock, chairman of the Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee, said he’s not aware of any other municipalities with such a local food procurement policy, although the University of Victoria does.

“With a population of about 20,000 students, that means they serve an awful lot of local food,” Murdock said.

“My hope is that, by following UVic’s lead, we may be able to set an example for other municipalities and businesses.”

The motion will go to council next week, but Saanich has long been in favour of green practices.

Now, food for events is bought from a variety of vendors.

Under the potential policy, food would come from local producers as much as possible. It might be slightly more expensive at the start, Murdock said, but that cost would lower as more people bought local.

“The more the local marketplace grows, the more competitive the cost becomes.”

It also creates a market and need for locally grown food.

Currently, Vancouver Island provides five to 10 per cent of the food it needs.

With more demand, Murdock said, residents can keep their dollars local and keep farmers in business, so that productive working farms aren’t sold for residential estates.

The cost of farming is high, and parcels of land that could be farmed are increasingly being sold and used for large residences.

Buying local also reduces greenhouse gas emissions as the food doesn’t have to be transported as far.

Murdock would like to see the policy eventually extend to cover food served in Saanich facilities as well.