This month, the CVFPC:
- Worked with K’ómoks First Nation on a Traditional Food Reconciliation Feast that was held on October 13, 2022.
- Continued to engage with the Food Hub Stewardship Group and hosted them for a tour of LUSH Valley’s facilities.
- Recruited and on-boarded 6 new members, including members from: K’ómoks First Nation, Island Health, Comox Valley Farmers’ Institute, and the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market.
- Communicated with potential contractors and the Ministry of Agriculture regarding an Island-wide survey of food assets in the case of an emergency.
- Discussed and prepared for the CVRD Agriculture Area Plan. This includes 3 members applying to be on the advisory and some members setting up interviews with the contract algologist.
- Prepared to re-launch the School Food Subcommittee. Had discussions regarding the Student Affordability fund with SD71, as well as discussions with the Provincial Coordinator for the Coalition for Healthy School Food. With new funding from the province and schools engaged in new food programs across the region, plus engagement from SD71, the Subcommittee is set to re-launch.
The CVFPC created two questions for an All Candidates forum Focused on the Social Determinants of Health. These questions were focused on food security and food systems. CVFPC members who were running for the election were not part of this process.
Also this month, the CVFPC requested and received permission from K’ómoks Chief and Council to support a member to join the CVFPC and work together on a reconciliation feast.
Members met for an in-person meeting—the first one as a group since March 2020! During this meeting, the new CVFPC logo was finalized.
Also this month, the CVFPC worked with partners on a Plan H grant application, which was successful.
The CVFPC turned two! This month, the Council submitted two letters to the Mayor and Council of the Town of Comox supporting Urban Agriculture rezoning amendments that included support for hen-keeping without lot size restrictions, as well as a request that greenhouses be allowed on front lawns. The CVFPC actively encouraged others to attend and speak at the Public Hearing as well.
In partnership with LUSH Valley, the CVFPC sent an “Eat Think, Vote” questionnaire to All Candidates in the North Island-Powell River and Courtenay-Alberni ridings in preparation for the federal election. The short questionnaire covered school food, supporting local food production, Indigenous food sources, food security, and food sovereignty. Click here to view the results.
School Food Learning Circle Report finalized by CVFPC member Jenn Meilleur.
The CVFPC supported the development of Urban Agriculture policies municipally in Courtenay and Comox. The City of Courtenay held a public hearing on June 23, 2021 to discuss “bylaw amendments to allow urban agriculture in the form of produce sales stands, raising of honeybees and raising of hens throughout the City.”
The CVFPC became a member of the Coalition for Healthy School Food and drafted a letter to be sent to local government, encouraging them to join.
The CVFPC also finalized a letter in support of the Restaurant Association of BC, outlining the impact of the pandemic on local eateries and food systems.
In partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Fisheries, the CVRD developed a feasibility study and business plan for a Comox Valley Food Hub. The CVFPC supported this work through advocacy and promotion, while also providing recommendations.
Council members Vickey Brown and James McKerricher met with Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns to discuss local food aggregation in the Comox Valley and to discuss how the federal government can support food security efforts. Also discusses was the importance of community markets and the impact of the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program.
Advocacy efforts over the summer brought about a resolution to the Union of BC Municipalities to ensure that Community Food Security efforts be embedded into the provincial emergency response.
The CVFPC participated in consultation with the City of Courtenay on their Official Community Plan (OCP). Priorities identified by the council included:
- Food storage and preparation areas in commercial facilities
- Integrating more food into all growing areas (urban agriculture, edible landscaping, converting empty lots into food growing)
- Habitat restoration: taking a holistic view to include more native planting
- Improved water conservation efforts
The City of Courtenay’s OCP is currently under review. A Draft OCP is expected to be available for public review in the Summer of 2021.
The Food Literacy Subcommittee opened their meetings to include members of the Farm to School Learning Circle. Farm to School BC “brings healthy, local and sustainable food into schools and provides students with hands-on learning opportunities that develop food literacy, all while strengthening strengthening the local food system and enhancing school and community connectedness.”
Throughout June, CVFPC continued to share current food security information on a regular basis.
Throughout the month, LUSH Valley and members of the CVFPC provided food supply and food security briefings to all elected officials in our region. On a weekly basis, the CVFPC shared up-to-date information on the state of food security regionally, provincially and globally.
On April 22, the CVFPC co-hosted a farmers meeting to understand the needs of food growers at this time. Results from this meeting can be found here.
Before the pandemic hit, the CVFPC hosted a strategic planning session to clarify priorities and disperse into subcommittees. Since then, the CVFPC has re-evaluated and finalized these subcommittee divisions as follows:
The Food Supply Disruption Subcommittee with the purpose of:
- Understanding our food supply globally and locally, during the pandemic
- Advocating for emergency response and government to add food security and food supply issues to their agendas
- Helping to ensure that food supply and food security planning is part of any and all emergency responses in the future
The Municipal Policy Subcommittee with the purpose of:
- Supporting requests for urban agriculture policy in the Town of Comox and the City of Courtenay
In March 2020, the CVFPC started meeting twice monthly to mobilize an emergency response and to ensure that the community’s most vulnerable had sound access to food.
On March 30, 2020 a press release stated:
“LUSH Valley Food Action Society and the Comox Valley Food Policy Council have been working on an emergency food accessibility response to the [then emerging] pandemic. In early March, when food hoarding and panic buying was resulting in food shortages for the most vulnerable in our community, we mobilized to find donations of food to bring to the Comox Valley Food Bank, Comox Valley Family Services, tenants at the Washington Apartments and other Social Service agencies in need.
“The necessarily collaborative nature of this response cannot be understated” said LUSH Valley’s Executive Director, Maurita Prato. “This type of mobilized response could not have been possible without the co-operation of the Comox Valley Food Policy Council, the Coalition to End Homelessness, the Community Health Network and countless other partner agencies and supporters across the region. The power of these relationships, and the generosity of all involved has given me great hope in this very difficult time”.”