Fencing supplies are seen on a downtown property where a garden planned by Ecotrust Canada at the corner of Second Str. and Second Ave. may be located. The urban agricultural project is a food sustainability initiative. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Fencing supplies are seen on a downtown property where a garden planned by Ecotrust Canada at the corner of Second Str. and Second Ave. may be located. The urban agricultural project is a food sustainability initiative. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Urban agriculture area planned for Prince Rupert downtown core

Ecotrust Canada to develop food security initiative in vacant lot

Food security with a downtown garden was the talk at the Prince Rupert City Council meeting on March 22 with a temporary use permit being discussed for a vacant lot to support the partnered Ecotrust Canada and Metlakatla Development Corporation project.

Ecotrust Canada is proposing to operate an urban agriculture area located on the Metlakatla Development Corporation-owned property at 225/227 2nd Ave West. The purpose of the Kaien Island Urban Demonstration Farm is to show what people can be doing in their own back yards and in their own gardens at home, Charles Gerein food systems coordinator with Ecotrust said.

“We’re going to be pursuing this so that people can source their food locally and shorten supply chains,” he said.

City Councillor Blair Mirau said in his experience food security is an urgent problem in Prince Rupert which might be an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ issue, but needs to be brought to the forefront.

In his ‘day job’, Mirau said research has shown that one-third or 567 Nisga’a citizens of 1700 living in Prince Rupert are not eating three meals a day on a regular basis.

“The number one reason that they’re giving us is the high cost, followed secondly, by accessibility. So there’s a tremendous amount of urgency here from my perspective in my day job…” Mirau said.

A greenhouse, garden planters, a compost bin, a tool shed, a covered deck, as well as fencing around the site, are all removable structures that are planned for the development. While the current zoning bylaw does not allow for this type of land use, the proposed new draft zoning bylaws do.

Mirau said it’s a very exciting project and he is ‘thrilled’ to see the partnership between the two organizations.

“I think it’s a really creative repurposing of a vacant lot in the downtown core. So, that’s excellent.”

The proposed use for the land has been supported by many residents during the Rupert Talks Offical Community Plan (OCP) and the zoning bylaw engagement process, Chris Buchan assistant city planner with Iplan stated in a report to the city. The 2030 Vision also supports the use of land in this manner.

The next step will be for temporary use application to proceed to the public notification period where neighbours will have the opportunity to provide feedback.

K-J Millar | Journalist 
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