Best practices in local food: A guide for municipalities

“We all want to raise awareness, and to celebrate the good things that are grown, harvested and made in Ontario. Sharing best practices and building on good ideas with a view to expand local food capacity demonstrates our collective commitment to support the success of our agri-food industry and to grow strong local food economies across Ontario.”

Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario

In March 2013, the government introduced Bill 36, the Local Food Act, 2013, which emphasized the importance of maintaining and growing Ontario’s local and regional food systems through a shared vision and collaborative partnerships, and creates a mechanism for setting local food goals and targets. According to the Act, the term “local food” refers to food produced or harvested in Ontario, and subject to any limitations in the regulations, food and beverages made in Ontario if they include ingredients produced or harvested in Ontario. The purposes of this Act are:
• To foster successful and resilient local food economies and systems throughout Ontario.
• To increase awareness of local food in Ontario, including the diversity of local food.
• To encourage the development of new markets for local food.3

The Local Food Resource Guide serves as a tool to enable municipalities to identify, develop and support dynamic local food initiatives and to promote evidence-based decision making regarding local food goals and targets. Ultimately, the Local Food Resource Guide aids in preparing municipalities to set targets, steps that are being taken to reach the targets, and progress that is being made towards meeting the targets.

Best Practices in Local Food

HomesNow report uncovers affordable housing barriers

8 July 2013

A new report produced by HomesNow, an initiative of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue, takes an in-depth look into the factors that impede home ownership, while providing actionable recommendations. Entitled ‘The HomesNow Initiative: Affordable Home Ownership in Greater Vancouver,’ the report also studies the barriers that prevent municipalities from acting on affordable housing for low to middle income residents.

WhileHomesNow was not able to generate the momentum required to build new affordable housing,the initiative did reveal many of the challenges that prevent new affordable homeownership options from being created, despite stated intentions and commitments to this goal.

At present,municipal governments are not committed to lead in the creation of new affordable home ownership. They have plans and policies in support of affordable housing but lack both the resources to provide deep subsidies and a clear consensus to support shallow ones. Partnering with senior governments on the former has been the typical way that municipalities have been involved. However, because federal and provincial governments provide less funding for these projects than in the past, that system is not meeting the need for affordable housing.

For a municipally supported housing project that will achieve a modest decrease in price or rent for moderate income households, as was intended by the HomesNow initiative, there needs to be strong leadership that understands and can communicate the value of this type of housing to the public.

Further innovation in the provision of affordable housing is possible and is necessary. Some successful projects have been done without extensive senior government involvement and inspire the search for a working and replicable model to provide what is otherwise unobtainable for many ofthe residents of Greater Vancouver: a home thatthey can afford. This
innovation will require a new understanding of the role of municipal government or a renewed commitment to affordable housing on the part of senior governments. These changes will require a strong voice  from the public in support of affordable housing – not just for those who are most in need, but also for modest and middle income earners who still cannot find suitable housing.

‘The HomesNow Initiative: Affordable Home Ownership in Greater Vancouver,’ identifies best practices, innovations, and areas of improvement when it comes to affordable housing, ultimately urging the 12 municipalities across Metro Vancouver to take action in breaking down governmental, physical and policy barriers.

The report, along with more information about HomesNow, can be found online.

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