Authors: Krista Macaulay & Lindsay Harris
In January 2022, the provincial Agricultural Land Commission denied an application from Tranquille on the Lake to remove ~51 ha from the Agricultural Land Reserve for a housing development. This decision was welcomed by the Kamloops Food Policy Council, who had advocated against the proposal due to the loss of agricultural lands, expected harm to a sensitive ecosystem, and lack of acknowledgement for an important Secwepemc cultural heritage site.
The KFPC envisions a local food system that is regenerative, sovereign, and just. This means we advocate for development policies that protect agricultural lands and support the food security of our community. However, Kamloops is also in a severe housing crisis, and the lack of available, affordable housing is causing many families to struggle to put food on the table.
Unlimited growth, a mindset with deep roots in imperialism and colonialism, can lead to the devastating destruction of valuable agricultural land, sprawling expensive neighbourhoods, and car-dependent cities. Growth for the sake of growth isn’t automatically good. Yet, stopping all growth is a major contributing factor to our current housing crisis. Low development, NIMBYism, and zoning constraints have caused a dangerously low vacancy rate and disasteriously limited housing inventory.
What would “good growth” look like in Kamloops? Growth that is resilient, compassionate, and smart can help us thrive. Growth that focuses on the needs, desires, and intrictities of our community can help us become a better place – unlike growth that focuses on building as many luxury homes as possible in a quarter.
The KFPC is advocating for policies and action from housing developers and local government that encourages the right type of growth that preserves our local food system and supports the distinctive needs of our community. More inclusive and economically savvy development – such as infill, multi-family, housing cooperatives and affordable rental housing units in our pre-existing neighbourhoods – are essential to increasing our low supply and meeting Kamloops’ current housing gaps. Housing that is net-zero, resilient to heat domes and flooding, and doesn’t expand the wildland-urban interface even further is equally important. Ensuring the right type of development is key to fostering the resilient long term health of Kamloops.
Let’s continue this discussion!
The Kamloops Food Policy Council will be launching a series on food and the city to explore a number of deeper civic discussions leading up to our municipal election. As the late urban planner and Canadian food advocate Wayne Roberts wrote, “food is a lever.” Food is how we connect to the land, our communities, and our traditions. And because food is so impactful in all our lives, it is a useful lever through which we can create transformative changes in other areas. Strong local food systems can help us get to more affordable housing, walkable neighbourhoods, stronger local economies, spaces for safety and belonging, and more.
You can read our full discussion on the topic of growth and sustainability on our website: www.kamloopsfoodpolicycouncil.com/growth-and-sustainability where you can also subscribe to stay in the loop about our food and the city policy series!