Tag Archives: agriculture

Saanich Voice Online looks at green roofs

Up On The Roof
P.C. King, Citizen Journalist

In earlier times the area known as Central Saanich was considered the breadbasket for what is now the Capital Regional District (CRD).

Today, the breadbasket for our region could extend to the rooftops, according to Saanich Councillor Dean Murdock. By developing rooftop gardens, communities could begin utilizing large areas of ‘empty space’. Although rooftop gardening is relatively new to the Saanich Peninsula, green roofs are not a new idea to communities around the world.

Murdock believes that rooftops are one of the best places to grow crops in Saanich. Murdock would like Saanich Council to introduce rooftop gardens as an amenity included in part of the guidelines for large-scale developments.

“We can turn acres of asphalt into green space and vegetable gardens,” Councillor Murdock stated. “Green roofs allow urban residents to grow their own food, and help reduce our carbon footprint.”

Councillor Murdock is not alone. A sustainable, food producing rooftop garden, or greenhouse, is a concept being considered all over the world.

In Montreal one company is growing crops of vegetables and herbs in a vast greenhouse built on top of an office building. In Chicago, the City Hall grows 20,000 plants (over 150 varieties) on their 20,300 square foot rooftop. The Urban Habitat Chicago (UHC) works diligently with the City Hall Planning Department before any of their rooftop projects begin. Permits are issued only for projects that meet strict standards and reflect careful architectural planning by certified structural engineers. The screening, planning, and building process is thorough… leaky condos need not apply.

(http://www.urbanhabitatchicago.org/blog/getting-started-on-a-rooftop-agriculture-project/ )
(website of Chicago City Hall) http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/doe/supp_info/city_hall_rooftopgardendesignandconstruction.html

Rooftop gardening is different from garden allotments at ground level, and is not a simple backyard vegetable patch or a weekend do-it-yourself home handyman project. However, a rooftop garden is possible for private yards and home owners and not just large development projects.

Green roofs can be installed on various types of structures, flat or sloped. Extensive green roofs require less soil (1-5 inches) where intensive roofs can be deeper and allow for more plants.

To add a rooftop garden to an existing building the support structure would need redesigning to meet the different load requirement of either an intensive or extensive rooftop garden. Local green roof expert Kevin Kersten, shares his knowledge of these issues on his website www.bcgreenroofs.ca. Kevin and Karina’s business, BC Greenroofs Consulting, was nominated for an Ecostar award in 2010 for their goal of preserving the natural environment and improving the quality of life. They assisted with the development of a small green roof on the vegetable market stand located at the Vantreight Farm.

Although installing green roofs on existing buildings may be more challenging, for new buildings the engineering and architectural aspects can easily be incorporated at the initial planning stage.

As an amenity for new developments, our municipalities are searching for ways to develop more green spaces. As suggested by Councillor Murdock, municipalities would be addressing this need by encouraging projects such as green roofs.

As Kevin Kersten points out, “It is not complicated but one must consider the things that matter—attention to detail, safety…and what it will look like in the future…with some creativity green roofs are not only for the big projects anymore. With our concept of going green, a small step at a time, you can enjoy a green roof in your own back yard.”

Rooftop gardens are not (as yet) going to displace agricultural or rural landscapes. They will not threaten the need for farmers or farming communities. The benefits include living green spaces, small scale food production, insulating properties for the building, and practical storm water management with drought-tolerant native planting.

With careful planning rooftop gardening is not far “outside the box.” Municipalities can begin working with consultants such as BC Greenroofs to initiate the future development of agricultural use of the vast empty space on your roof.

Greening Saanich rooftops

Saanich to consider encouraging green roofs for future developments
CFAX 1070 February 12, 2012

Roofs in Saanich could get a little greener, this after council supported a recommendation on considering the encouragement of including rooftop gardens on multi-family or commercial developments in the district.

Councillor Dean Murdock says the recommendation was brought forward by the Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee, and was supported unanimously.

“it was, I think, a very healthy discussion about some of the outcomes, both expected and unanticipated about including green roofs, and making sure that before we move forward we have a careful look at what the options are, what the impacts are in it, both financial and social and of course having discussion with industry experts about exactly what the conditions would be for West Coast buildings to have green roofs”

Murdock says it is an opportunity to encourage food security, by creating additional green space and growing opportunities in the community. He says there are also environmental benefits to green roofs as they capture storm water, and they help to save energy by keeping hot and cool air inside buildings.

Future green space could be up on the roof

Saanich rooftops could provide local food security
Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

Saanich councillor Dean Murdock is pushing to make rooftop gardens much more commonplace in the municipality.

Murdock, who chairs the Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee, was expected on Monday to ask for support on a recommendation to have green roofs become part of the development guidelines for multi-family residential and commercial projects.

“There are a number of benefits to it. Obviously the food security aspect of providing some growing space in an urban environment … where you’ve got a lot of concrete or asphalt,” Murdock said. “Green roofs are also great for capturing and retaining stormwater and retaining hot and cold air, helping to reduce the energy consumption of the building.”

A green roof can be either intensive (a thicker layer of soil to grow plants and vegetables) or extensive (a thin layer of soil to grow grass or light vegetation). Murdock sees the most value in an intensive green roof, which is more like a garden.

He doesn’t want to see rooftop plots as a mandatory building element, he said. Rather, he’d like to see them suggested to developers as a sustainable amenity on buildings.

Saanich already has more than a handful of buildings with green rooftops: the Social Sciences and Mathematics building at UVic has eight green roofs, while Tri-Eagle Development’s Raven building on West Saanich Road also has one.

“My hope is that this will encourage the idea that this is something that would be a benefit in Saanich, and support our values of food security and environmental stewardship,” Murdock said.

Murdock wants Saanich’s green roofs for urban farming


For Immediate Release
November 15, 2011

Murdock wants Saanich’s green roofs for urban farming

Victoria – Saanich Councillor Dean Murdock thinks one of the best places to grow crops in Saanich could be up on the roof.

Murdock wants to see Saanich Council introduce rooftop gardens as a suggested amenity for large-scale developments in major centre development permit guidelines.

“We can turn acres of asphalt into green space and vegetable gardens,” he said. “Green roofs allow urban residents to grow their own food, and help reduce our carbon footprint.”

Port Coqutilam and Richmond are the only BC municipalities with green roof bylaws. Saanich has a community allotment garden policy for public lands. The policy does not include rooftop gardens.

“It’s a great way to provide food security, to ensure we can grow enough food for ourselves,” Murdock said. “It’s a great place for neighbours to meet neighbours. Green spaces and open spaces are increasingly rare in urban settings. Why not put them up on the roof?”

The Capital Region Food & Agricultural Initiatives Roundtable (CR-FAIR) estimates that 5 to 10 percent of the food consumed in our region is grown locally.

The first-term Councillor is seeking re-election to Saanich Council and a seat on the CRD Board.

Municipal elections are November 19.

Saanich News: Food Security

We asked the Saanich mayor and council candidates to provide their thoughts and strategies on food security.

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

The cost for families to put food on the table is rapidly increasing. With rising costs of importing foods from the around the world, it makes sense to focus on growing food right here at home. We can make our region food secure by respecting the urban containment boundary and refusing to allow development on farmland. We can promote local food production by implementing Saanich’s “buy local” food program and working with local municipalities and businesses to encourage adoption of similar programs. We should promote local food markets and expand community gardens on public and private open space.

Making local food more accessible

Saanich Council has taken another step toward supporting local farms, increasing our food security, and making local food more accessible.

Councillors unanimously voted to create a Local Food Procurement Policy. This will give preference to local food producers when purchasing food for municipal events and food services. So, instead of buying tomatoes or cherries that travel all the way from California or Mexico, we’ll get them from Saanich or Vancouver Island farmers.

The University of Victoria’s highly successful local food program has been in place for almost a decade. Feeding nearly 20,000 students and teachers local food choices every day is a big shot in the arm for local producers. Saanich doesn’t buy a lot of food, but when we’re spending local dollars, we want to use them to support local farms and help to bolster local food production and the local marketplace.

I am confident that by following UVic’s example, Saanich will inspire other municipalities and local businesses to set up their own ‘buy local’ food policies. Our collective buying power will help to grow the local marketplace. Selling more fruits and vegetables means more profitable, productive farms – that’s more local jobs and fewer ‘For Sale’ signs on agricultural lands.

Buying local also cuts our greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint by saving the long-haul truck trips that bring food across the country (or countries). Local food is healthier too because there are fewer, or no preservatives needed when food comes straight from the farm to the dinner table in the same community.

The Local Food Procurement Policy is just a small step. There’s more that we can do. Let’s work together to create more community food markets closer to home. Giving local producers a place to sell their fruits and vegetables at our recreation and shopping centres puts them in direct contact with consumers. It also gives consumers a chance to find out where their food comes from and how it’s grown.

By choosing local food, we’re getting healthier, low-carbon choices and supporting our farmers. That’s how we’ll make our community more sustainable and food secure.

Investing in local farmers means keeping our dollars local

Saanich council passes local food motion
Colleen Kimmett, The Tyee

Saanich district council unanimously passed a motion last night to adopt a local food procurement policy.

Councillor Dean Murdock introduced the motion. He told The Tyee the policy would make locally-produced food a priority at district events and within its food services. It would apply to vendors at public festivals, for example, as well as catering at internal meetings. It would also apply to the cafe at the district’s recreation centre, said Murdock.

Murdock said that city staff is looking at a local food procurement policy already in place at the University of Victoria – which estimates 45 per cent of the produce and 36 per cent of the meat it buys comes from Vancouver Island.

“The University of Victoria feeds 20,000 people a day. We’re not going to approach anything quite of that scale,” Murdock said. “It’s incremental. The hope is that it will inspire others to follow suit.”

Murdock says city staff also have to determine the geographical boundaries of “local.”

“Certainly, there’s a lot of capacity here, but it’s a question of the type of products you’re talking about,” he said. “There are some things we just don’t have here.”

As interest in local food procurement spreads across what’s known as the MUSH sector – municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals — there is concern that a pending trade deal with the European Union will quash efforts to direct tax dollars specifically to local suppliers.

Murdock said the Canadian EU Trade Agreement (CTEA) wasn’t a topic of discussion at last night’s meeting “but it’s something I’m aware of.”

“Staff are going to develop terms of policies that will be done with respect to agreements,” he said. “We’re proceeding on behalf of Saanich residents. We think this is to the benefit of residents and local producers.”

Saanich Council unanimously supports creation of local food policy

Saanich council supports local food policy
CFAX 1070

Saanich Council passed a motion Monday night to support local food producers.

Councillor Dean Murdock says the recommendation from the Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee to develop a local food procurement policy was supported unanimously.

“The policy when it’s designed and implemented will give preference to local food producers in the region for our food services and events in Saanich … obviously we can’t get one hundred per cent, but for example, when we need tomatoes, rather than bring in tomatoes from California or Mexico, we’ll do tomatoes that are grown locally.”

Next staff will develop the specifics of the policy. One of the questions to be answered is how far away will still be considered local.

Murdock says he is hopefull the policy will be in place by the fall, and certainly expects it to be in place by the new year. He says community feedback indicates concern for food security and he thinks this is one step Saanich can take to improve local food security.