I wasn't expecting to be writing you this morning, but good news deserves a quick note!
As you may have heard, Toronto City Council passed its budget, and in the process, reversed a significant number of proposed cuts to City programs. Not just yesterday, but time after time over the last several months of the Core Service Review, funding and programs that were mulled and planned for cuts were saved. These included food security related programs like urban agriculture, the Toronto Environment Office, neighbourhood Environment Days, community grants, student nutrition, small business development and festivals, the Riverdale Farm and fees at farmer's markets. Yesterday, led by good food-friendly Councillors Colle, McMahon, Mihevc and others, additional funding was also restored to the Toronto Environment Office and Live Green Toronto community animators, as well as food security-related transit, child care and youth programs.
To think we've been in meetings and writing letters opposing these cuts since last summer... reviewing the above list shows the strength Torontonians have when we get involved and work together with neighbours and like-minded organizations. Thank you to all our members, supporters and partners for all the work you have done to keep Toronto healthy, compassionate and green. I was lucky enough to share this congratulation on food security and related wins on CP24 last night.
Now is the right time to work on a positive and propositional agenda that builds a City with good food jobs and community food access, allowing ventures to flourish and a sustainable City to be revealed in every neighbourhood.
If you haven't joined us, please become a member, make a one-time or monthly donation, and get involved as we organize in wards throughout the City to make this vision possible. It will certainly take good ideas, modest resources and more fun work!
- Darcy Higgins, Executive Director
"So let us be loving, hopefuly and optimistic. And we''ll change the world." - Jack Layton
What's your twelfth?
St. James Town Good Food Project, September 2011
by Darcy Higgins
The last few years have seen Toronto, a City without the culinary tradition of other global cities, bringing good food to the forefront. Our streets have seen witness to the rise of yum, with great restaurants, urban agriculture, food centres, neighbourhood dinners, farmer’s markets, community canning, and food boxes.
The past year was a particularly exciting year with campus, school and community food projects and micro-businesses filling gaps and needs throughout the City, and innovative events like Food Truck Eats, Scadding Court’s Live Local Marketplace, Leslieville’s Winter Food Mix, the Rusholme Park Supper Club, and the Toronto Underground Market.
The coming year will see a plethora of activity that keeps food climbing to the centre of Torontonians’ desires for wellness, sustainability, equity and new jobs. Here’s a head’s up on 12 changes, trends and happenings to watch and participate in.
Street food - After a breakthrough year for Toronto street food, 2012 has all the ingredients to really get things going. Despite setbacks with vendors in some neighbourhoods, entrepreneurs like Suresh Doss and Marianne Moroney aren’t letting barriers get in their way. City Council’s new mix of lefties keen on health and justice, conservatives that want bureaucracy out the door, and a new group of centrist foodies could make street food a plan that works. With many advocate eaters in public and on Council, watch for the streets to finally heat up.
The suburbs – No, The Arcade Fire’s Grammy win of the same name was last year. 2012 is all about the exciting food projects bubbling up across the City, from Scarborough and North York, South Etobicoke and The Beaches. Soon, few parts of the City will be left untouched. The good eats already available in the ‘burbs may also get the attention they deserve.
Backyard hens – With much back and forth behind the scenes over 2011, a backyard chicken allowance will soon be debated by Council. Popular throughout the world for fresh eggs, many Torontonians have desired the ability to keep a couple of their own for a more healthy and ethical source of protein. Expect them to share this view with their councillors.
A couple weeks ago we enjoyed a super Town Hall of guests with backgrounds in small business, government and academia, all talking good food jobs. Though not identified solely, problems with making tasty food things happen in Toronto came down - as identified by the public in the Food Strategy - to layers on layers of City policy that are hampering new initiatives.
Panelists had a diverse number of strategies and thoughts on getting things done regardless, depending on the venture, including:
- working where the rules allowed them
- applying to the City for change and getting approved or rejected
- consultant services and working with City staff to work within the rules
- starting pilot projects
- advocating together for suitable rules and fees
- breaking a rule and asking for forgiveness
There was an overall feel that either rules needed changing, or more minds needed to open to allow pilots projects and new policies surrounding mpbile vending, food trucks, street produce vendors, farmer's markets and food events.
Food Forward looks forward with this advice to do its part by continuing to campaign for good food jobs and our speciality in working to change bad policies. We're thrilled to have new partners in this effort.
We're thrilled that Catherine Porter who moderated the Town Hall featured panelist Josh Neubauer in the front-page Toronto Star story the following Monday Red tape spoils fresh idea.
The Globe and Mail also covered the issue in an articleby Sarah Elton about food deserts and the anniversary of the Toronto Food Policy Council, Toronto plans to bring relief to suburban 'food deserts'
And finally, the Globe's Marcus Gee looks to what Calgary is doing to east regulations for food trucks and why thinks we should do it too, Taking street food from flop to fame