Montreal – The Montreal Office of Public Consultation (OCPM) released this week its report on the State of Urban Agriculture in Montreal. This report is the culmination of a massive mobilization effort through which more than 29 000 montrealers signed a petition calling on the City to hold a public consultation on the said subject. Santropol Roulant applauds this great victory for civic democracy here in Montreal.
The report is broad and comprehensive and speaks to the breadth of interest, knowledge, involvement and enthusiasm for urban agriculture in all its forms. This document will for many years be an invaluable reference tool for anyone interested in the topic, both here in Montreal and beyond.
Among the report’s many recommendations to the City, Santropol Roulant notes a series of points most pertinent to its own work and activities in urban agriculture:
- “the establishment of concerted, recurring and multi-year funding, including a general funding program dedicated to urban agriculture projects carried and initiated by community organizations, as well as projects that favour multi stakeholder partnerships”
- “a demonstration of leadership in the definition and institution of effective measures to help protect agricultural lands within the amalgamated territory of Montreal”
- “particular attention to the challenges faced by the new generation of young farmers in Montreal’s West Island”
- “creation of a database of reliable information with the objective of informing people on the various rules and regulations pertaining to UA”
- “appointment of a city representative for urban agriculture”
- “pursual of the development of seasonal markets and review the various regulative and administrative impediments that limit their full expansion”
- “support for the progressive development of urban apiculture, within a clear regulatory framework”
- “a favouring of measures (regulation, incentives, etc) that facilitate the development of green roofs in accordance to Montreal’s own unique context”
Given the results of our own internal consultations with members of Santropol Roulant, through which access to land and suitable growing spaces was identified as one of the main barriers to participation for aspiring urban gardeners, we also note the following two recommendations:
- “an assurance of no net loss of community garden spaces…a reduction of waiting lists and a response to the needs of the different boroughs, through the creation of new garden spaces, when and where possible”
- “an increase support for collective gardens »
On the recommendation of no « net » loss of gardens, we wish to point out that shutting down an existing garden to replace it by a new garden elsewhere is not always an acceptable compromise, given that some gardeners are unable to travel to the new space. The City must strive to maintain existing community gardens in their current locations. We also lament the lack of clear targets for the addition of new community garden spaces.
We congratulate the OCPM on a job well done, and we ask that the city take its recommendations seriously and begin to act on them in a reasonable timeframe. Montrealers expect no less.
Santropol Roulant’s Urban Agriculture Program finds its inspiration in the Food Justice Movement – a movement that attempts to address hunger by addressing the underlining issues of racial and class disparity and the inequities in the food system that correlate to inequities in economic and political power.
Specifically, we are interested in building a food system that is healthy, just, and sustainable. As such, our urban agriculture projects are designed to support local and organic agriculture, while assuring that such foods remain accessible to all regardless of socio-economic status, level of mobility, or degree of autonomy.
Tim Murphy, Director of Sustainability and Urban Agriculture