New food security options to be explored

By Jeff Labine
June 27, 2017 - 12:00pm

Prince Albert city council didn’t buck — or rather cluck — at the chance to explore new food security options.

These new options include a framework for food waste management, possible edible landscapes, permanent community gardens, using goats and sheep to help with unwanted weeds, and permitting urban chicken coops in residential backyards.

Despite some concerns, council gave the greenlight for the Prince Albert Food Coalition to explore these ideas with the city Monday night, although any implementation will have to come back for further approval.

One of the concerns raised by Ward 8 Coun. Ted Zurakowski was the smell from urban chicken coops. Having been raised on a farm, he told the rest of council that coops didn’t have the best odour to them.

Debbie Schutte, spokeswoman for the local food coalition, said chickens would be treated like any other pet. There would also be a permit system, which would be an added incentive to ensure people follow the rules.

“With dogs or cats, we don’t have to check with our neighbours to see if it’s OK to have a puppy and whatnot,” she said. “We would anticipate you would take care of a hen in the same way you would take care of a dog. With a permit system, you can take that permit back and the chickens have to go.”

At the moment, only rural areas can have hen coops on their property.

Council also heard during the presentation that the city doesn’t actually have to own sheep or goats to utilize them. Instead, the work can be contracted out.

Ward 7 Coun. Dennis Nowoselsky said other cities are moving towards improving their food security and mentioned Gatineau, Que. is looking to utilizing local honey hives.

“They are controlled, they have introduced it slowly but it has helped pollination, it has helped the natural environment,” he said. “I also went to some of the permanent garden complexes, which are beautifully done in Gatineau. I’m impressed with it being done in other cities and I see us moving forward with some of these initiatives.”

Although it wasn’t included in the food coalition’s presentation, Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick wanted council to consider implementing a bylaw that would require stores to donate their food to charity and groups that distribute to homelessness and vulnerable people.

He said he would like the city to move in that direction sooner rather than later.

Administration is expected to revisit some of these ideas with a report in September.

 

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