A strategy is proposed to expand agriculture in the Okanagan.
Surrey-based Kwantlen Polytechnic University wants to conduct a bioregion food system design, study and plan for the entire Okanagan region.
“There are a number of opportunities in the Okanagan,” Kristi Tatebe, with Kwantlen’s Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, told the Regional District of North Okanagan board Wednesday.
“The study can quantify the benefits of agriculture here.”
The project goals include potential increases in food production and processing for local markets and potential improvements in food self-reliance, the local economy and jobs. There could also be a potential reduction in detrimental environmental impacts from food production, while the potential for post-production needs would be considered.
Current policy gaps at all levels of government would be reviewed and policy changes would be proposed.
“There are higher level policies possibly impacting things like meat regulations at the provincial level,” said Tatebe.
The cost of the project is $400,000 and the three valley regional districts are being asked to contribute half ($50,000 from RDNO over two years). The remainder of the funding would likely come from a variety of agencies.
No decision for funding has been made but RDNO officials appear intrigued by the study.
“Sustainable local food systems are increasingly important all of the time,” said director Catherine Lord.
However, some caution is coming from director Mike Macnabb.
“It hits most of the major points of our regional growth strategy but we need the study to have strong deliverables,” he said.
“We don’t want it to sit on a shelf. We need something to act on. We need to remove the barriers.”