Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


Southeast False Creek Urban Agriculture Strategy

Prepared for City of Vancouver
By Holland Barrs Planning Group
In association with
Lees + Associates
Sustainability Ventures Group
November, 2002

Report Contact:
Robert Barrs

City of Vancouver Contact:
Robin Petri

This page includes the Executive Summary, and the Summary and Recommendations. The full report (large file, 207 page PDF, 3MB) can be downloaded here Southeast False Creek Urban Agriculture Strategy

Executive Summary

Planning for "sustainability" and "sustainable development" eventually come down to dealing with the fundamentals of life - water, air, energy, transportation and waste. Another, equally important dimension that is often overlooked by urban planners, but is nevertheless equally fundamental to our lives, is food and the agricultural systems that produce it. Most of us take our food for granted - so much so that we often forget the role it plays in our social relationships, community building and the role that food and agriculture have in shaping our economy and environment.

During the early planning stages of the proposed model sustainable community at Southeast False Creek (SEFC) in Vancouver, planners questioned the relationship between food, agriculture and sustainable urban development and began to consider the role of urban agriculture in such a community. The SEFC Urban Agriculture study attempts to answer these questions and incorporate the answers into a strategy that will assist with the planning of SEFC.

While the study of urban agriculture has gained considerable momentum in North America and elsewhere, and even become fashionable in recent years, this study may be the first of its kind in North America to focus solely on the role that food-related activity and urban agriculture could play in the comprehensive planning of a new neighbourhood.

The study team have chosen to define urban agriculture broadly to include not only food production activities within an urban area, but also food processing and distribution opportunities. This is the food system approach, which considers all elements related to food activity and the relationship between these elements.

Fundamental Goals
SEFC is planned to be a model of energy efficiency and sustainable urban development and, as such, an urban agriculture strategy, should assist with achieving the fundamental goals of a sustainable community. Simply stated these are to:

SEFC has a fifth fundamental goal, which is to be a "model" for future urban developments.

It is within the context of these fundamental goals that the urban agriculture strategy for SEFC has been developed.

The report explores urban agriculture in the context of our current food system, and discusses some basic considerations for developing a strategy suitable for the model South East False Creek community. This includes examination of nine strategic objectives that will help achieve the fundamental goals. For each objective a number of strategic actions and policy directions are presented. These broad strategic directions are followed by an examination of a number of specific food production, food processing and food distribution options that could support each objective at SEFC.

The report provides recommendations for implementing the options at each stage in the planning and development process.

Strategic Objectives, Actions and Policy Directions
Nine objectives form the core of the strategy and a number of strategic actions and policy directions are associated with each:

Objective #1 - Increase the physical capacity of the SEFC neighbourhood to support the growing of food:

Objective # 2 - Increase the amount of food grown in SEFC, privately and commercially:

Objective #3 - Increase the amount of food consumed in SEFC that is produced both organically and as close to SEFC as possible:

Objective #4 - Increase food-related economic development initiatives, including increasing the local processing of food consumed in SEFC:

Objective # 5 - Increase the capacity of SEFC to provide or support basic food security initiatives for local Vancouver residents in need:

Objective # 6 - Encourage urban agriculture practices as a strategic approach to managing waste flows in a more sustainable manner:

Objective # 7 - Increase the technical capacity, skills and knowledge of all stakeholders relating to innovative urban agricultural systems:

Objective # 8 - Encourage the celebration of food and the local food system:

A related objective, but one over which the City has little influence, is:

Objective # 9 - Encourage food consumed in SEFC that is produced in other regions or countries to be food produced through ethical and environmentally sustainable business practices:

In addition to these strategies specific to each objective, there are a number of actions that will assist with co-ordinating and linking an overall strategy:

9.0 Summary and Recommendations

The previous sections detailed a number of options that together could form the basis of a sustainable community food system at SEFC. Each of the options was evaluated according to social, environmental, economic and other criteria. Two matrices summarizing the evaluation, Table 14-1and Table 14-2 can be found in Appendix D.

In addition, we considered the suitability of the options specifically for the urban context of SEFC. Some of the options are more suitable for SEFC while others present far more challenges and may be more appropriately located elsewhere. Table 14-3 in Appendix D summarizes the suitability of the options for different types of spaces or buildings.

As a result of these two pieces of evaluation work and the feedback received from stakeholder workshops we recommend the following options. The options are not mutually exclusive and we recommend that several of the options be adopted as part of the overall SEFC Urban Agriculture Strategy:

9.1 Recommended Options

Food Production
We recommend that the city encourage food production to take place using the options below in spaces identified on the draft structure plan:

Option G1 - Community Gardens: Encourage Community Gardens in part of the Public Park, in the landscape around public buildings, and in some rights-of-way. There are also large open spaces identified adjacent to the park, between residential buildings that the City should consider retaining ownership of for use as community gardens.

Option G2 - Private (backyard) and semi-private gardens at grade: Encourage private (backyard) and semi-private at-grade gardens in the landscapes around all residential buildings.

Option G3 - Rooftop Gardens: Encourage rooftop gardens on the podiums (but not the towers) of concrete residential buildings.

Option G4 - Balconies and Window Boxes: Encourage balconies on residential buildings to be designed for food production.

Option G5 - Edible Landscaping of the Public Realm: Substitute purely ornamental landscapes in public areas with edible landscaping in public parks, and selected street right-of-ways where appropriate.

Option G6 - Commercial Greenhouse: Invest in (or allow) a small-scale commercial greenhouse at SEFC as a demonstration project on land retained by the City to illustrate how a commercial greenhouse operation might function effectively in a high-density urban area. Alternatively the Parks board may include a small-scale greenhouse in the Park as part of an overall educational strategy, possibly linked with a restaurant or other food facility.

Option G7 - Commercial Market Gardens: Not recommended at SEFC (except perhaps on a temporary basis) even though it may be appropriate in other areas of the City.

Option G8 - Inside Buildings: Allow certain urban agriculture uses inside commercial buildings and possibly residential buildings if the appropriate management approach can be found.

Option G9 - School Gardens: Encourage gardens at the elementary school and daycares.

Option G10 - Aquaculture/Bioponics: Of all the types of livestock that might be pursued at SEFC, we recommend intensive fish culture because of the numerous benefits in terms of high quality protein production, recycling of wastes, high yields, and educational opportunities. There are far fewer negative impacts from aquaculture than other forms of livestock. This option should be implemented as a small - scale demonstration project that could prove the viability of the approach which could then be adopted in other city locations.

Option G11 - Micro Livestock: The keeping of bees should be encouraged to produce honey and assist with pollination. Worms are valuable processor of waste but require no action on the part of the City.

Food Processing:

We recommend the City encourage the following options:

Option P1 - Shared Commercial Kitchen: The City should encourage and support a shared commercial kitchen to encourage micro-food processors. In addition, small commercial food processors should be allowed to locate in appropriate commercial space at SEFC.

Option P2 - Food Incubator: The City should encourage and support a food training facility (incubator).

Option P3 - Eco-Industrial Food Complex: Because very little of SEFC is zoned industrial, it is probably not feasible to attempt a full-scale eco-industrial complex (this might be more appropriate at False Creek Flats). However, we recommend that one or more demonstration projects be implemented to demonstrate the concept. These demonstration projects will provide excellent opportunities to be a "living classroom" in which visitors and students can learn about the environment, agriculture and sustainable technologies.

Food Distribution

We recommend the City encourage the following options:

Option D1- Farmers Market: The City should encourage and support the development of an permanent indoor and temporary outdoor farmers market as close as possible to the SkyTrain station.

Option D2 - Direct Home Delivery: The City should encourage this option although there is a minimal role for the City to play.

Option D3 - Food Buying Clubs: The City should encourage this option although there is a minimal role for the City to play.

Option D4 - Grocery Store: The City should encourage an affordable, locally-owned grocery store within the community near to the SkyTrain station.

Option D5 - Emergency Food Services: The City should encourage on-site growers and processors to donate excess food to a food bank and possibly encourage the location of an emergency meal program on the site.

9.2 Implementation

So far in this report we have developed objectives and a number options for a sustainable urban food system at SEFC. Each option included a number of implementation recommendations. Implementing the options will require leadership from the City, co-ordination of different stakeholders, sustained focus on the goals and objectives, and attention to detail in the planning, design and programming of the new community.

Table 9-1 provides a summary of the options, and the action required by stakeholders to implement the option in the various spaces available at SEFC. This table also summarizes the costs involved where these are known.

Further to the specific strategies included with each option, there are a number of more general implementation strategies that should be considered. These cut across several objectives and provide a coordinating or linking role:

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Revised Sunday, December 15, 2002

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture