Substitution (provisioning)

Land lease programs for urban food production

Urban food forests and edible landscapes

Restricting use of synthetic fertilizers in urban areas

Governance strategies for urban food production

Changes to hunting, trapping and fishing licenses

Parks management, crown land, rivers and streams, and self-provisioning

Land-based pedagogical approaches in educational settings


Land lease programs for urban food production (adapted from MacRae et al., 2012)

Although community gardening is happening primarily on public or para-public land, there are often significant opportunities to engage a wider range of institutional actors and private firms, given their often significant land holders, often in traditional lawns.  Urban farmers also often do not own the land they cultivate. There can be worries, however, about gardening practices, security, water, liability and who has access to the site.    Such matters can be addressed by municipal facilitation that links land with gardeners, and provides a lease template.

Setting lease rates at zero is obviously optimal for self-provisioning, but not necessarily realistic in urban areas with high land costs and significant competition for building sites.  Landowners may have motives other than maximizing profit for offering land at reduced rate. They may want to see food production next to their residence, to support local residents, to gain environmental benefits (birds, bees, etc.), or to obtain a tax break by making land available to nonprofit or public groups. If the city creates incentives for developers to install food production sites (potentially as part of Community Benefit provisions, see Goal 1 Food retail access), and disincentives if they fail to. Rates are very complex when having to determine “fair market value” for land with a limited set of private uses (e.g., hydroelectric corridors).

Given the complexities in larger municipalities with significant land use pressures, a coordinated leasing system will be needed. Interested  landowners, including the municipal government and para-public institutions, could contract with a third-party organization to manage lease arrangements based on templates established by the municipality. The third party would set up the lease arrangements with interested farmers and community groups, taking a small percentage of rents supplemented with revenues from the municipality and foundations to finance its coordination activities. If a third party is managing leases, there is some opportunity for pooled leasing rates for farmers and community organizations, with the leasing agency pooling revenue and then dispersing it differentially to landowners.  In this way, commercial activities can subsidize self-provisioning.

Urban food forests and edible landscapes

With Ottawa something of an exception (Ballamingie et al., 2019), most cities have not made fruit and nut trees a significant part of their forest management planning and implementation, despite their potential contributions to core forest master plan objectives such as improved air quality, reduced stormwater and heat island effects, wildlife habitat and canopy coverage (Clark and Nicholas, 2013).  The Clark and Nicholas analysis that included 10 Canadian urban forestry plans (Saanich, Selchelt, Vancouver, Victoria, Banff, Calgary, St. Catherine's, Harbord Village and Wellington (Toronto neighbourhoods), and Burlington) found no mention at that time of fruit or food for human consumption. Calgary has, however, been trialling fruit and nut tree plantings in community gardens, in public parks, as regional orchards, along pedestrian routes, and in urban domestic gardens (Clark and Nicholas, 2013). The scenario analysis developed by Clark and Nicholas of just new apple tree plantings with agroecological management on vacant land in Burlington, Vermont suggested that urban apples could provide up to 1/3 of the population's apple consumption.

Similarly, there is typically limited attention to edible landscaping in public spaces.  In other municipalities, multifunctional edible landscapes are being designed that include food provisioning, recreation, green and social space and aesthetic value (Clark and Nicholas, 2013).

Fruit and nut trees can be part of municipal tree selection programs. The Clark and Nicholas analysis of fruit tree and bush suitability in climes similar to southern Canada suggested 30 species could be viable, including low and highbush blueberry, apple, sour cherry, certain grape varieties, some pears, a range of berries grown more in Western than eastern Canada, sea buckthorn, and some nuts (hazel, chestnut and filberts).

Restricting use of synthetic chemical fertilizers in urban areas

To be consistent with a Circular Economy approach, urban areas must optimize use of organic materials for urban soil fertility.  This means reducing as much as possible  synthetic chemical fertilizer applications with high quality compost for use in food production and landscaping. At this stage, many municipalities would be encouraging residents and companies to naturalize their landscapes and reduce the traditional monocultural or limited grass lawn. Restrictions would parallel and compliment limits imposed through provincial legislation and municipal by-laws on synthetic chemical pesticides. Although cosmetic pesticide use regulation is uneven across the country (see Goal 5, Sustainable Food, Efficiency, Removing additional barriers to urban food), significant restrictions are in place but there are exemptions for public health and safety matters, control of invasive plants, sports fields and golf courses (but they must follow Integrated Pest Management practices).

Most provinces have nutrient management legislation, or nutrient management provisions in other legislation and programs, to regulate nutrients, use and application on agricultural lands. Ontario has the Nutrient Management Act, BC uses the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) Program, the Agricultural Waste Control Regulation, and the Environmental Management Act, Nova Scotia also uses the EFP and the regulations under the Environment Act.   The legislation and regulations typically allow for a  broadening of what lands are considered under the regulations, what nutrients can be applied, and whether a nutrient management plan is required. In some provinces, this may also require a reconsideration of what defines a farmer, usually a minimum gross sales amount.  Amendments to acts and regulations should be introduced to restrict application of synthetic chemical fertilizer in urban landscapes and encourage use of composted material from urban organic sources. As with synthetic chemical pesticides, exemptions could be permitted for landscapes where soil fertility is difficult to manage without fast-acting nutrient release, or where soil conditions have specific nutrient requirements that are not easily available in compost (e.g.,  sports fields, golf courses, showpiece gardens, rehabilitation sites). Compost for sale to urban farmers would have to meet the requirements of the federal Fertilizers Act (see Goal 4), and compost provided by the municipality to residents for self-provisioning purposes would need to meet compost quality rules of the province but not necessarily Fertilizer Act requirements.

Governance strategies for urban food production (adapted from MacRae et al., 2012)

In most cities, urban food production is happening in a somewhat un-co-ordinated fashion.  Governmental and non-governmental actors support projects, different funders offer supports, access to land can be a difficult process, and spatial dispersal uneven. In the spirit of creating a more co-ordinated approach for both self-provisioning and commercial production, MacRae et al. (2012) and Nasr et al. (2010) set out mechanisms in Toronto for governing urban food production.  Although these proposals have had some influence on the construction of Toronto's Agricultural Strategy, little of their governance proposals has been implemented.

Complex policy and program environments, such as those related to urban food production, are challenging to govern. A structure and process must aggregate resources for implementing food production across numerous complementary and competing actions and actors. Gaps in jurisdictional and regulatory frameworks can create governance challenges. The range of landowners and building owners and the geographic dispersion of production and distribution further complicate the
governance environment.

Several models are possible (see Nasr et al. 2010), but the approach most consistent with Goal 7 is a multistakeholder steering body with staffing from a funded agency. It is modeled on the Student Nutrition Toronto Partnership, which coordinates the implementation of student nutrition programs for over 125,000 children daily in Toronto schools (see Goal 3, Integrating food into educational processes). In this model, overall governance and policy development would be provided by a steering body representing all the main governmental and nongovernmental actors engaged in the sector. Staffing support would be provided by municipal staff already supporting urban food production. The steering body would have an allocations committee that aggregates resources — land, finances, inputs, expertise — and distributes them to projects based on one funding application. The allocation committee’s members would include representatives from government, funding agencies, private donors, and program delivery agencies.

Changes to hunting, trapping and fishing licenses

Licenses are primarily regulated by the provinces, except for indigenous peoples who are self-regulated if self-governing, or regulated by both federal and provincial rules.  Provincial rules are further broken done by regional zones, seasons and species.  Firearms rules are primarily provincially regulated, except that the federal government has been working on gun registries.

Building on existing rules that give preference to aboriginal rights after conservation goals are met and before other allocations (for example, see Ontario rules about fishing licences), and given significant declines in wildlife and plants in traditional indigenous provisioning territories, indigenous peoples will have to be further preferenced for hunting, fishing, trapping and harvesting on those areas. Recreational licenses for non-indigenous peoples (including those attached to recreational hunting lodges) will have to be limited to protect resources. This also means making much fuller use of traditional ecological knowledge for determining how many tags and licenses will be available to recreational hunters and fishers. Beaudin - Reimer (2020) highlights in one case the disparity between a Métis view of the moose population in a region and the provincial one, with the Métis hunter lamenting the inaccuracy of the provincial approach to determining how many moose tags to permit believing that it contributes to population decline. In some cases, Métis hunters have called for a region to be closed for lack of moose and the province has ignored their calls because it hasn't done a survey to confirm.  These hunters have also expressed concerns about acceptable traps and firearm permits.

For tags and licenses distributed to non-indigenous people, the priority should be those for whom self-provisioning is an important part of the family's food security, identified as about 25% of hunters, but a much smaller percentage of fishers. Certainly catch and release programs restrict access (see Goal 5, Sustainable Fishery Management).  For trappers, those trapping for income and self-provisioning would be the priority.  A challenge will be designing a test to determine who is a self-provisioning priority.  Those on unemployment, social assistance or pensions are readily apparent, more difficult is identifying the working poor. However, changes to income security architecture (see Goal 1) will improve the circumstances of the working poor, which would allow those on fixed low incomes to be the priority. Non-Canadians with tourist outfitter establishments will be the lowest priority, not because of their national status, but because they have to have considerable income to afford such a trip.

In some cases, conservation organizations receive some of their funding from licenses, so if there is a significant decline in the numbers issued, that may compromise conservation budgets.  Governments would need to monitor these realities and provide compensatory revenues to assure conservation work isn't compromised.

Parks management, crown land, rivers and streams, and self-provisioning

The FPT governments have crown land and parks, with rules specific to the jurisdiction and often sub-regions.  Hunting, fishing and trapping are usually permitted temporary uses on crown land, and sometimes also in parks, although park - related restrictions have caused many indigenous communities to oppose their territory becoming parkland. The Fisheries Act has provisions around temporary use of vacant public land (with some caveats) that reflect this public approach,

(1) Every subject of Her Majesty may, for the purpose of landing, salting, curing and drying fish, use, and cut wood on, vacant public property that by law is common and accessory to public rights of fishery and navigation.

Foraging for food and medicinal plants in forests is also sometimes permitted, sometimes restricted.  Long-term forage management plans are obviously required to avoid habit and other ecological disruption (Chamberlain et al., 2020).

However, governments typically view food activities as more recreational than provisioning, and also permit other recreational activities that can be significantly ecologically disruptive and noisy and may impose limitations on food provisioning.  Governments periodically review their use rules for crown land, and at this stage the review should be through the lens of self-provisioning for food security and indigenous food sovereignty.  In association with a focus on priority populations for licenses (see discussion above), this will likely result in restrictions on non-food related activities.

Land-based pedagogical approaches in educational settings

Self-provisioning is very dependent on knowledge, of both food production, harvesting, trapping, hunting and fishing, and of the ecological context in which such provisioning takes place to ensure protection of natural resources. At this stage, educational bodies and organizations must scale up and out Efficiency stage initiatives (see also Goal 3, Integrating food into educational processes).