Planning and community development activities have a significant influence on how and where food is grown and distributed, how individuals and communities access food, and to what extent food system activities impact ecological integrity. For example, agriculture and food production has a significant impact on the use and availability of land, water, and other resources. The design and regulation of built environments impact if and how people are able to access healthy food. The food system is also a significant economic and employment sector, creating diverse jobs for Canadians across production, processing, and distribution sectors. Additionally, food is critically linked to cultural expression, social life, and community cohesion. Despite the significant influence of food on everyday life, local communities have typically had very little influence over how food systems are developed, regulated and governed in Canada.
In March 2020, the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS) at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, began a three year research project in close partnership with the professional planning community in Canada. This important partnership is realized through work with the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP), and outreach to their membership, as well work with local planning agencies in the Okanagan bioregion of British Columbia. The project aims to examine three critical areas of food systems planning in Canada; 1) the skill and knowledge of planners and degree of engagement in food systems planning, 2) the tools, resources, and policy environments that support their work, and 3) the processes used to develop and implement food systems policies and plans. We will work across local and national scales to understand where and how food systems planning is occurring, and to develop tools and resources to advance sustainable food systems in Canada through planning.
This project is funded by the Social Science Research Council (SSHRC) through the College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF).