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Food Policy Council Proposed For Winnipeg

“It can be kind of a lens on food policy issues for the city. And it’s also a venue for community ideas and initiatives.”

– PAUL CHORNEY, MEMBER OF THE CITIZEN WORKING GROUP PROPOSING THEIDEA

The City of Winnipeg is being urged to establish its own food policy council, similar to those now found in Toronto, Vancouver and several U. S. cities.

Food policy councils are multi-stakeholder groups that work with the city, providing feedback and advice to municipalities on policy matters such as food access, urban agriculture and composting, said Winnipegger Paul Chorney, a member of an informal citizen group proposing the idea.

The group put forward the idea at City Centre community committee of Winnipeg last week and will meet with other committees around the city again in January.

Creating a council is the most important first step Winnipeg could take toward addressing pressing issues such as poor nutrition among lower-income residents, Chorney said. Food policy councils typically involve representation from many different stakeholder groups,

including those with interest and expertise in areas of health and community development. A council can forward ideas coming directly from the community to city hall, said Chorney, who is the community liaison for Food Matters Manitoba.

“It can be kind of a lens on food policy issues for the city. And it’s also a venue for community ideas and initiatives.”

The idea was first proposed at a meeting of about 70 persons who participated in a city-hosted October round table discussion as part of the city’s efforts to get citizen input for its new 25-year development plan. Winnipeg planners say social issues such as food access and land use intersect.

A group of about 20 who met again after the October session concluded the key action for the city is creation of a council.

The October meeting also produced a number of policy priorities a food policy council could potentially pursue, including a city-wide composting program and an indoor year-round farmers’ market for the city.

“These are just ideas,” Chorney said. “There are financial realities and there has to be political willingness for those things,” he said. “What we feel is the first step now is for the city to say, ‘let’s have a food policy council.’ From there, other things can emerge.”

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About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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