A set of policy recommendations for municipal officials has been developed by the Kamloops Food Policy Council, covering topics from food security to decolonization, sustainable development and community safety.
Mayoral and council candidates filled KFPC’s new food hub facility The Stir on Sept. 28 as team members presented the list of policy recommendations for hopefuls to consider.
Lindsay Harris, food policy implementation lead, told Castanet Kamloops that KFPC has been involved with policy advocacy since the organization began in 1995, but this particular initiative is new for this year’s municipal election.
“We were noticing there's not a lot of support for candidates in doing the research to build strong platforms,” Harris said.
Harris said the KFPC reached out to their membership and volunteers to help develop the list of topics, undergo research and write up policy recommendations.
“We have a lot of research expertise on our team and in our volunteer network, so we thought, hey, this is a way we can contribute to the public conversation surrounding the election.”
After the election, Harris said policy recommendations will form the basis of KFPC’s advocacy to the newly elected city council, and reaching out to candidates is a way to start building those relationships.
“We do a lot of grassroots advocacy, we often present as a delegation to city council. But just as often, we are calling up specific councillors to advocate for specific areas of interest to them and building those relationships, because you can do that at the municipal level in politics,” Harris said.
“These are the people on the ground in our community that are the most accessible to us to do policy advocacy with, so we're definitely going to continue to do that work after the election.”
During the presentation, KFPC’s Krista Mcaulay reviewed policy recommendations around sustainable development and affordable housing.
Mcaulay said KFPC advocates for development policies that protect agricultural land and support food security, noting that a lack of available, affordable housing is causing families to struggle to put food on the table.
“Flexible development guidelines, regulation and zoning can support, encourage and foster infill development, and as well as bring increased density into our core neighbourhoods,” Mcaulay said.
“Some bold changes to encourage this type of growth could include removing single family zoning, adding density bonuses, and eliminating or reducing parking requirements.”
Recommendations also included a public forum to generate creative solutions for the housing crisis and a “yes in my backyard” campaign to draw awareness to the benefits of multi-family infill development.
KFPC also recommended investing in active transportation infrastructure like bike lanes, providing bike valets at events to encourage cycling and reduce bike theft, and investing in public transit to plan the city “for people, not cars.”
“If we invested in a public transit system that was truly efficient, convenient and accessible, we could repurpose our investment in our expensive car-centric, road-centric system. And research has shown that we'd save money in the long run if we did that,” Mcaulay said.
KFPC also advocated for the municipality to pursue decolonization, encouraging election hopefuls in the room to pursue opportunities to transition government land to Indigenous control — which has happened in previous years in Mission, Merritt and Vancouver — recognizing oral and written Indigenous law, and continuing to support Secwepemc education and curriculum.
Other recommendations included developing a community safety strategy which includes involvement from marginalized people, and implementing safety audits in different neighbourhoods to understand both real and perceived safety levels.
“We're recommending an increase in public education, aiming to de-stigmatize marginalized communities and teach our citizens how to respond to a variety of mental and physical crises,” Harris said.
A full list of KFPC’s Food and the City policy topics and recommendations on KFPC's website.
According to KFPC, the topics and recommendations will evolve as research and community input continues.