Members of the public will be given a first peek at the results of an agricultural land use inventory, when consultants unveil the results of mapping work at two workshops to be held in Elphinstone and Halfmoon Bay on Saturday, Oct. 27.
The events will also provide residents an opportunity to discuss how they envision the future of food production in the region and to help identify challenges, constraints, opportunities and benefits of enhancing the local food system. The information will be used to prepare a background report for an agricultural area plan (AAP) for the region.
“An agricultural area plan focuses on practical solutions to issues and identifies opportunities to strengthen farming and ultimately to contribute to food production and the region’s long-term sustainability,” said Dale Peterson, chair of the SCRD agricultural advisory committee.
“These first maps give a visual representation of what is already being produced, but also serve to identify land that isn’t as productive as it could be and to determine capacity for increased food production.”
The SCRD’s We Envision sustainability plan, prepared in 2011, identifies increased local food production as a key step towards sustainability on the Sunshine Coast. An AAP aims to provide those involved in farming with a greater sense of security in the long-term economic viability of food production.
The SCRD has partnered with the Town of Gibsons, District of Sechelt, Sechelt Nation and Islands Trust (Gambier Island Local Trust committee) to create the plan. Funding has also been secured from the Investment Agriculture Foundation.
“Land use plans throughout the region, whether local or regional, all stress local food production as one of their primary goals,” added SCRD planner Gregory Gebka. “We are hoping an AAP for the Coast can serve as an umbrella to leverage these objectives in a focused and concerted way.”
In addition to the workshops, this initial round of public outreach includes an opinion survey, which members of the public are encouraged to fill out at: www.scrd.ca/agriculture. The next stage of the AAP will be to develop a set of policy recommendations based on the background report, including the land use inventory.
The workshops are from 10 a.m. to noon at Frank West Hall (1224 Chaster Rd., Elphinstone) and from 2 to 4 p.m. at Coopers Green Hall (5500 Fisherman Rd. off Redrooffs Road).