How Canadian Local Governments Enhance Food Security: Exploring food security approaches in urban, rural, and suburban contexts on Southern Vancouver Island
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The objective of this research is to identify what actions local governments are taking in the urban, suburban, and rural context, and how food security has been conceptualized. Food security is commonly understood to exist when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food so that they can maintain a healthy and active lifestyle (FAO, 2019; Food First NL, 2019). Health Canada currently provides food security studies and services as part of its objective to help Canadians maintain and improve their health. Current actions and strategies that address food security are generalized in nature, and do not differentiate between political and professional audiences, or urban, suburban, and rural contexts. It is important to understand the differences between contexts and audiences for food security objectives to be effectively prioritized, as urban, rural, and suburban communities may conceptualize and address food security differently. While some attention has been placed on understanding the tools that local governments can use to address food security, additional research is needed to identify how urban, rural, and suburban local governments can support local food systems within their distinct contexts. The themes and strategies uncovered in this thesis can be identified for other jurisdictions. Additionally, these themes can highlight areas for future research. It is estimated that the Province of British Columbia is only able to meet 46% of its food needs with local production (ALC, 2015), and local non-profit activist organizations claim only 10%-20% of food needs are met locally on Vancouver Island (Cowichan Green Community, 2010). In the context of a dynamic global market that is susceptible to downturns, collapses, and disruptions, it is apparent that some level of local production capacity is necessary to ensure that communities are resilient so they can respond to the impacts of potential hazards and mitigate their risk exposure if access to foreign resources is disrupted. Given recent trends in local population growth and the development of agricultural land, combined with its location in a geographic area prone to earthquakes, Vancouver Island is at a particular risk for the impacts of natural hazards and functions as a useful case study area. I interviewed 11 public officials and 9 municipal professionals to identify how local governments are conceptualizing food security, and which actions and tools these governments are utilizing to address food security. This extensive examination of municipal actions has been contextualized in urban, rural, and suburban contexts so that the findings can be useful for communities with similar conditions. The results of this study identify how local governments understand food security, and the approaches that have been taken to address food security issues. This thesis contributes to the literature by helping to operationalize the concept of food security within a market-based economy, while identifying the gaps between public policy and food security literature by contextualizing the findings in urban, suburban, and rural communities.
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Richard Buchan (2019). How Canadian Local Governments Enhance Food Security: Exploring food security approaches in urban, rural, and suburban contexts on Southern Vancouver Island. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/15223