News / Calgary

City of Calgary looking to better food growing bylaws

Cutting the red tape would go a long way towards helping farmers and groups grow close to home

Currently bylaws and regulations create some barriers to food growing in Calgary

Helen Pike/ Metro

Currently bylaws and regulations create some barriers to food growing in Calgary

The City of Calgary is looking at ways to simplify its land use bylaws when it comes to food growing, processing and distribution with some amendments to the rules.

Currently the process is in the engagement stages – in spring and summer any proposed changes will come to council for a final say.

Laurie Kimber, city-wide planner with the City of Calgary said it's all about aligning with the CalgaryEATS action plan – a document he called "aspirational."

"We're just looking at our rules to make sure they communicate well to people what opportunities there are out there, and also look at making sure we have as many opportunities in Calgary to grow food as possible," Kimber said.

"That goes for all types of growing; so growing for businesses, industry as well as individuals – which might be more like gardening – but still growing food. We're looking at the full range."

The CalgaryEATS policy was brought forward in 2012 and Kimber said it's taken some time to collect a team of people and resources to address the issues with the structure and approach. This is the formal launch by the City of Calgary to gather stakeholder feedback for a report to council.

Coun. Druh Farrell said the rules currently in place can act as an impediment to those looking to get sprouting.

"For no good reason we had rules in our land use bylaw that prevented the ability to use vacant land to grow food, so it's a fairly simple endeavour simply to get out of the way, or create more enabling legislations, so that we welcome food growing in communities," said Farrell. "Vacant lots are never the best use of land…they rarely contribute to a community."

In Farrell's experience as a manager of the Sunnyside community garden is that growing foods brings people together as community builders.

Kate Pugatschew with Calgary Freestyle Gardening said it's encouraging to see the city looking into how they communicate rules about city growers. Her group has been trying to navigate the city's labyrinth to try and find a way to set up plots across the city and provide those in need with food.

"We've been so apprehensive to get anywhere into the public land thing," Pugatschew said. "We're trying to go to the community associations to see if they can help us access land because trying to go through the city itself is just so confusing and so intimidating."

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