Tag Archives: food security

Protecting farmland: Rejecting ALR removal on Mt Doug X Rd

Saanich Councillors voted against re-zoning property on Mt. Douglas X Road for a second time Monday night.
CFAX 1070 July 22, 2012

The owners of the property at 1516 Mt. Douglas X Rd wanted to remove it from the Agricultural Land Reserve and rezone it for 10 new units.

Councillor Dean Murdock says that isn’t going to happen.

“The one thing that sort of kept this [proposal] alive is that there was this language in the very dated Local Area Plan that says that this could potentially be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve. That’s inconsistent with the language in our Official Community Plan.”

Murdock says staff have also been directed to change the language in the Local Area Plan to clarify that “council wasn’t prepared to consider forwarding an application again with respect to this property.”

The proposal was uninanimously rejected last year and again Monday night.

Promoting local food protects against global price spikes

It could get more expensive for Saanich families to put food on the dinner table this summer. The worst drought to hit the United States in nearly 25 years is threatening to drive up food prices around the world.

Corn prices will likely rise dramatically as mid-western farmers suffer enormous crop losses due to dry, hot weather. Corn is used in hundreds of products, affecting everything from the price of cereal to meat.

By supporting local producers and buying local food we can avoid sudden price increases on the grocery bill.

Protecting and enhancing local food production begins with our agricultural land. As our population grows, there is always pressure to break through our urban containment boundaries (UCB) and encroach upon agricultural lands. It compromises our food security and contributes to car-dependent sprawl. Saanich Council must continue to defend the UCB.

Instead of carving up our farmland as real estate, we should look for more ways to support our local farmers by keeping farming profitable. In Saanich, we’re changing out-dated bylaws to allow for more “pocket markets” to sell local foods. We have a policy to “buy local” for our recreation centres and special events. And, a Food Security Task Force will recommend actions to support local food growers.

We’re also looking for ways to grow our own food. Using public and private open space for community gardens gives urban residents a space to produce their own food. We’re looking at opportunities to use green roofs on new and newly-renovated development projects as community gardens too. The Saanich-owned Panama Flats could be used for new and small-scale farmers to produce local food.

We can defend ourselves against global food price increases. Let’s make local food affordable and abundant by protecting farmland from urban development and creating spaces to grow and sell food. Our food security depends on it.

Dean Murdock
Saanich Councillor

Growing your own food is emergency prepardness

Setting sights to prepare for Saanich’s future
By Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

Saanich has a long way to go to achieve some pretty lofty goals in the next quarter century – but Saanich council and staff members are confident that they’re doable.

By 2036, Saanich hopes to see the number of residents growing their own vegetables increase by 66 per cent, according to the municipality’s 2012 draft strategic plan, released last week.

On Wednesday, results from the latest citizen survey came out, which show nearly one-third of residents already grow a portion of their food.

“I think it’s achievable. They’re always stretched targets – it doesn’t move us far forward if they’re too easy to achieve,” said Sharon Hvozdanski, Saanich’s director of planning.

She says the municipality has been moving in this “progressive and sustainable” direction for years, and more is in the works to reach the 2036 target. “People that come to the West Coast are usually interested in that type of lifestyle, or they’re really supportive of it.”

Food security – from backyard gardens and backyard chickens, to municipal allotment gardens and the state of local agriculture – has become a topic of greater interest to Saanich council recently.

In the last two years, Coun. Dean Murdock has recommended that council look at easing urban poultry-keeping restrictions and allowing rooftop gardens. As well, he suggested that Saanich examine the feasibility of a Moss Street Market-style farm market on the Lochside Trail, where it meets municipal hall.

“What I’m hearing, and I think it’s reflected in the citizen survey, is there’s a growing interest in producing food for yourself. As that continues to happen, as interest continues to grow, we’re going to have to look for creative ways to help people do that,” Murdock said.

The second-term councillor says food security is important, since in the event of an emergency, Vancouver Island could be cut off from outside food deliveries for a number of days.

“Certainly the ability to produce and consume your own food puts you in a much better position in terms of emergency preparedness. If you’re not able to get access to (imported) food, hopefully you have it in your garden.”

Capt. Brock Henson, Saanich’s emergency program officer, agrees, and acknowledges another goal set out in the strategic plan.

By 2018, 60 per cent of Saanich residents should be prepared to survive for seven days, following an emergency or disaster. According to citizen survey results, only 23 per cent of households are currently ready to survive for a week in the event of an emergency.

“Our supply routes are a little more vulnerable than if we were on the mainland,” Henson said. “Things come by boat, for the most part, and if the ferry and barge service were disrupted, that could cause some supply challenges in the shot term.”

While many government agencies say residents should be prepared for three days, Saanich shifted its messaging about four years ago, encouraging households to be prepared to last a week.

“Through my own experiences in Christchurch, New Zealand (following major earthquakes in that country last year), it often wasn’t until Day 3 there was a real problem with respect to supplies,” Henson said. “That’s why it is such a significant goal for us. The more prepared we all are, the better we will do following such an event.”

By 2036, Saanich aims to have 90 per cent of residents prepared to survive for one week after a disaster.

“We really have an uphill battle with respect to fighting the apathy toward being prepared, and for the public to recognize we all need to be prepared for a period of at least seven days, not three,” Henson said. “We are already above the national average here. We are seeing the numbers increase, they’re just not increasing as quickly as we’d like.”

Murdock says the direction Saanich is going, both in terms of food security and emergency preparedness, will help achieve the goals.

“I think, in part, some of the things we’re putting in place right now, and some of the things we’ve already done, are a step in the right direction,” he said.

Both the strategic plan and citizen survey are considered guiding documents – they provide direction to staff on short- and long-term goals and indicate residents’ priorities.

The citizen survey, conducted in January, found that 92.4 per cent of people define the quality of life in Saanich as good or very good, and 89 per cent say Saanich is a good place to raise children.

Respondents listed road and traffic control, parks and trails, and rec facilities as the top financial priorities. The municipal services considered most important are quality of drinking water, residential recycling and garbage collection.

The survey also found that residents cite the Saanich News as their preferred way of finding out information about the municipality.

To read the complete survey results, or to have a look at the draft strategic plan, visit saanich.ca.

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.