Last December, London City Council passed amendments to the London Plan and Zoning By-law to make it easier for Londoners to grow food in the city. The amendments focused on the regulations for growing food within the urban growth boundary, the development and use of greenhouses in association with urban agriculture, and shipping containers used to grow food in association with urban agriculture. These welcomed amendments are an important step in moving the Urban Agriculture Strategy forward, easing barriers and providing much-needed clarity for urban agriculture throughout London.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the lack of access to affordable food. The need for improved access to fresh, high-quality produce has never been greater. As a non-profit focused on utilizing underused land to grow food, Urban Roots London is encouraged to see the City of London continuing to embrace urban agriculture. It is especially exciting to have more flexibility for greenhouse and shipping container growing barriers, allowing urban growers to extend their growing season or grow year-round.
While acknowledging the amendments are a significant step forward, we also encourage continued action on other urban agricultural issues to further the Urban Agriculture Strategy. For example, developing processes for growing food in city boulevards, growing and selling in city parks, creating food hubs, reducing application fees and development charges for urban agriculture, and financial support for soil tests would reduce the barriers and provide opportunities to strengthen the local food system. In addition, we need to continue to make it easier for all Londoners and organizations to access and use land to improve food security in response to the climate emergency.
And these changes may not be far away. Recently, the City has collaborated with Hutton House and the Kensington Neighbourhood to establish the Cavendish Park Food Hub. The proposed precedent-setting agreement between the City and local organizations to use city-owned land for urban agriculture will open doors to use this model throughout the city.
While we continue to push for simplicity and reduce barriers, we also need to ensure we use a transparent and equitable approach that takes into consideration everyone’s barriers. Developing a fair and equitable process for organizations and community groups, especially those led by equity-deserving groups, to access and license city-owned land for non-profit urban agriculture will let us all work to improve food security.
This blog post is part of “Examining Updates To London’s Urban Agriculture Bylaw – A Collaborative Series”. View other blog posts in the series at mlfpc.ca/blog
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