City Council


You win some...

Thank you thank you thank you.

Your support in writing councillors and spreading the word about Toronto's local food policy helped lead to a significant win at City Council today, reversing the threat to the local food procurement policy that arose at Committee two weeks ago (see The Sun article). Good food won 40 to 1, with 4 councillors absent.

The compromise and cooperation by Councillors that led to the motion's passage was a rarely seen occurrence over the extended Council session this week, and is a victory for Toronto's food movement, the environment and Toronto food sector jobs. Only minor changes were made to the final motion which can be found here.

A petition from the Toronto Environmental Alliance along with support from local food processors, Ontario farmers and the Toronto Food Policy Council helped to lead the charge. Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon led the item and negotiations with others on Council and was applauded by colleagues for success on the motion. It proves that a united food movement with citizen action can make a difference at City Hall.

And that's an important note, because not all is good news today. The City's Core Service Review report by KPMG this morning took aim at Parks and Environment, suggesting that the City's urban agriculture program and the entire Toronto Environment Office might be areas to scrap. The report identifies urban ag as a "new and expanding activity area", though suggests it just might not be worth it. The Environment Office runs the Live Green program, which has provided significant grants and support for community food projects throughout the City, and our allotment and community gardens provide access for thousands growing their own food.

So we have to do this again and work together to tell our Councillors that urban agriculture, community food projects and a better environment are critical to the health of all Torontonians.

You can participate next by speaking at the Parks and Environment Committee on Thursday, July 21, when it discusses the core service review. You can register to depute, by contacting Kelly McCarthy by July 20 at noon, at and 416-397-7796. It is important that residents discuss how they use these services, why they are important, and the direction they'd like to see the City take on enabling community kitchens, gardens, markets and bake ovens in our parks.

We can be a healthy City with a vibrant food culture prioritizing access for all, but only if we don't go backwards after so much success. The public feedback portion of the Core Service Review found food security mentioned as a priority time after time, with residents indicating their support for programs that address poverty and marginalization, affordable sustainable food and reduced bureaucratic blocks to community and business projects.

Let us know if you're interested in speaking at Committee, and we can help. After success today, but further threats to healthy food in Toronto, becoming a member of Food Forward is even more important. Join us and let's keep working together for positive change.


Acting on local food at City Hall

Last Tuesday, the Government Management Committee reviewed a status report on the City's Local Food Procurement Policy, which was create in 2008, with a goal of the City of Toronto getting to 50% local food purchasing. Tuesday's update on this progress contained a consultant's report stating that the goal of buying 50% local was not yet practical, but staff still recommended a way forward: the City's three main departments that purchase food for young children, those in long-term homes and shelters should continue to work toward increasing their local buying.

This recommendation was not passed at the Committee, under a tied vote. In fact, Councillor Doug Ford commented that the local food policy should be done away with all together.

The tie means the policy goes to Council for final decision. Though it may not be perfect policy, it is critical that the City continue to increase its purchase of local food to support public health, our environment and our local economy. One in eight Toronto jobs is in the food sector, and dissolving the existing policy would reduce City support for local business.

Tell Councillors today to support the Local Food Procurement Policy, and that:

- Good food jobs are important and according to City staff, increasing local food content provides greater economic and business opportunities for food processors in Toronto.
- The report recommends no cost increases and so voting for the policy would not affect the City Budget
- Buying locally means reducing distance to cut our carbon footprint and keep our dollars in the local economy

You can reach them by:
- Phone - Email - Tweet- Facebook - Meeting -

Council contact info:
Write all councillors by copying this list:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

You can also sign this petition from the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

Food Forward has had many discussions about local, sustainable food procurement by institutions at different levels of government also including hospitals, universities and schools. It just makes sense, and we hope to support continued progress. We will continue to discuss this issue in the provincial election, where all parties have expressed interest in buying local if not more.


Food rising from the ashes

City Council has been all over food policy as of late. This week, food makes another entry with a motion by Councillors De Baeremaeker and Wong-Tam at the Tuesday-Wednesday meeting to investigate a possible banof shark fin in Toronto restaurants, shark being an animal under threat of extinction. A good time to broaden the discussion and on food policy and the treatment of various animals.

Last Council meeting was the death knell for Toronto's problematic "Toronto a la Cart" street food program, which was wrought with bureaucratic and business management problems. But not widely reported was the future of street food in Toronto and the City's direction, après Cart. The City seems to have learned from its mistakes and is now considering how it can open up healthy, diverse food with fewer strings attached, as many of us have hoped. Council struck a working group to come up with new ways to allow street food to be delivered in the City - not run by the City itself liked before, but still governed within City regulations. The working group is made up of City staff along with a current food vendor, one of the A La Cart participants and a rep from the BIAs, and will come back to Council with a plan later this year to bring back a clear set of street food requirements for vendors, in hopes of new and healthier options. Interviews with other cities will be lined up and all related policies will be reviewed - including the current moratorium preventing the move past hot dogs. Food Forward has been in touch with Licensing & Standards which is leading up the review, and they've agreed to consider our input and support once they've gotten going. We are hopeful about what the next steps could mean on this issue, as a reflection of a potential new attitude on food policy at City Hall. Progress on this file would see new opportunities to bring Toronto up a notch - on culture, food access and new jobs. We'll keep you apprised (join our contact list!


City Hall decision supports farmers' markets

Happy Election Day everyone! Canada's food movement has brought food policy, critical issues to the forefront and their last job is to get out and vote today.

In municipal matters, Food Forward sent of a letter to councillors on the Public Works & Infrastructure, a committee of City Council to thank them for their support for farmers' markets, in their decision last week not to increase their fees for parking. Click here for background on the decision and here for a National Post article covering the issue, and see our letter below:

Dear Councillors, Public Works and Infrastructure Committee,

I am writing to commend you on your decision Tuesday to maintain the one-time
parking fee of $71.97 for City farmers’ markets. As you know, your decision maintains the current practice of charging markets a one-time annual parking fee for their activities. This choice was a good one for the expanding number of communities served by farmers’ markets in Toronto.

Farmers’ markets are playing an important and growing role in many ways.
These include providing fresh healthy food, enhancing community spaces and in
incubating entrepreneurs and fostering job growth in Toronto’s food sector, which
supplies one in eight Toronto jobs. They are a key draw for several City Parks.

Support from City Council for farmers’ markets provides a great benefit to
the City and I’d like to express thanks on behalf of Food Forward’s members for your
decision. Thank you additionally to Councillor Mike Layton and Anne Freeman for
bringing attention to this matter.


Darcy Higgins
Executive Director
Food Forward