Scaling Up Urban Agriculture in Toronto

On Tuesday November 27 Toronto City Council unanimously endorsed the GrowTO Urban Agriculture Action Plan. Earlier in the month, the Action Plan was presented to Toronto’s Parks and Environment Committee by James Kuhns, Wally Seccombe and Abra Snider. There were also two deputations: Katie Berger, from Occupy Gardens Toronto and Christopher Wong, from Young Urban Farmers.

Councillor Mary Margaret McMahon championed the report, writing a letter of support for scaling up urban agriculture, and proposing a number of motions for the committee to consider. The motions proposed by Councillor McMahon were unanimously supported by the committee and the Action Plan will go to City Council for endorsement on November 27th or 28th. The letter and motions can be found here.

Most significantly, the motions ask city staff from a number of divisions to report on how urban agriculture could be better supported and resourced by the city, as well as to examine what policies and procedures could best link growers to land and space across the city.

Also, at the October 12th Planning and Growth Management Committee a new Residential Apartment – Commercial Zone was proposed and endorsed. The purpose of this new zone is to encourage retail and service uses that fulfill the needs of residents and allow for small-scale enterprise. Some of the permitted uses include: art gallery, custom workshop, eating establishment, market garden, office, outdoor sales and display, recreation use, retail service, service shop, and take-out eating establishment. The specific locations of the RAC zone will be identified shortly. There is land around many apartment towers that could be used for urban agriculture and this is an important new zoning designation.