A report to London’s City Council, on December 7th 2021, titled “Encouraging the Growing of Food in Urban Areas – City Wide”, resulted in amendments to London’s Official Plan and the London Zoning bylaw Z-1. As noted, in the opening paragraph of the report; the project focuses on the “Growing” component of London’s Urban Agriculture Strategy and is being considered under the Urban Agriculture Strategy’s guiding principle to develop supportive municipal policies, regulations, and bylaws, and remove policy barriers to urban agriculture.
By clarifying the conditions which allow for Greenhouses, Hoop Houses and Shipping Containers for the growing of food and relaxing the need for a building permit and site plan evaluation under certain circumstances, people will be closer to providing their own food security and food sovereignty within London’s Urban Growth Boundary. Property owners will also want to consult with their insurance providers to ensure that there are no further barriers and restrictions beyond the City’s jurisdiction.
While Friends of Urban Agriculture London (FUAL) complement the work of London’s Planning department and the City’s Council in their work to develop supportive municipal policies, regulations, and bylaws, and remove policy barriers to Urban Agriculture, we see this as one step of a work in progress.
The references to livestock in this report, essentially section 5.1 Overall Objectives, brought our attention to section 662 of London’s Official Plan. This statement restricts the keeping of livestock and pursuing animal husbandry activities within the Urban Place Types. This in turn restricts the citizens of London in their quest for food security and food sovereignty as well as affecting the work of a number of businesses, non-profit organizations and co-operatives that keep bees and raise other insects within the Urban Growth Boundary.
In early 2017, the Agriculture Advisory Committee sent a letter to council to recommend that Council request the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs review and amend the Ontario Bees Act to allow Ontario municipalities to create their own bylaws which could permit urban beekeeping. Later in 2017, the “original final draft” of London’s Urban Agriculture Strategy also recommended that Council “Consider an Official Plan amendment and any other regulatory amendments to permit the keeping of livestock within urban areas of the city.”
Many of the vegetables that we grow and eat do not require pollination. But, if we wish to grow fruit vegetables, like tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and melons, in a greenhouse, we have to ask: “Who will provide the pollination?”.
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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