Markham Agricultural Advisory Committee (MAAC)

Website
Est. 2011

Background:

In 2008, Markham initiated an Agricultural Assessment Study that concluded with recommendations, including the creation of a Agricultural Advisory Committee and a food charter. Also during this year, food was incorporated into the Official Plan and a local food procurement policy was created. In June 2011, Council endorsed the Greenprint Sustainability Plan, in which one of the 12 priorities was food security and it also included the recommendations from the Agricultural Assessment Study. By December of 2011, Council had endorsed the MAAC’s terms of reference, members were recruited and its first meeting took place.

Membership:

It is generally comprised of up to 19 members who are appointed by Council, with 7 representing the agricultural sector, 2 representing local urban issues, 2 members from the academic community or advocacy groups and a minimum of 1 Council member. The remaining come from various agencies across Toronto and York region.

Association with Government:

The MAAC has a formal relationship as an advisory committee established by Markham Council. They work in close connection to both the Sustainability Office and the Policy Planning department.

Documents Created:

Activities:

  • As a new committee, they are just beginning to undertake some initiatives now. Initiatives that were carried out by the City of Markham previously: Local Food Procurement policy, Stiver Mill Farmers’ Market, 5 new community gardens, local food guides for South Asian and Chinese residents, and the Meatless Monday campaign.
  • The MAAC, in partnership with the York Region Food Network, completed the York Region Food Charter, and recently had it endorsed by Council. Their next step is creating a food charter tool kit as a resource for schools, businesses, and resident groups.
  • Current activities include performing a review of Markham’s Official Plan from a food perspective, and promoting their new website on local farming and food initiatives throughout Markham.

Challenges:

In general, from their experience of working with the City, there has been a lack of staff time dedicated to policy development and uncertainty about their responsibilities and jurisdictional role during the implementation stage.

Help in Overcoming Challenges:

  • Support of Council and senior staff who have been very interested in food and agriculture
  • Close working relationships with the Sustainability Office and Policy Planning staff