The Kamloops Food Policy Council has launched 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. 


This is the first post in our Food & The City series. Subscribe here to stay in the loop about our ongoing food and the city posts!


Sustainable Development and Affordable Housing in Kamloops

*Portions of this post were published in the Kamloops This Week Connector Article. The condensed version of this article can be found here.


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 a 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 intricacies 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 good growth, 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. 


(where do we grow from here?)


Growth in the face of an affordability and availability housing crisis

Kamloops is in a severe housing crisis. Our population is growing more quickly than projected, and our inventory and community vacancy rates are at critically low levels. We know we are in desperate need of more housing supply. 

However, not all development meets the current demands of our fast-growing city. Large single-family homes – like the ones planned in the recent Tranquille on the Lake Development – do not necessarily meet the budget of young families looking to enter the housing market as first time buyers or individuals or families looking to rent. Houses outside of city limits fall outside of our transportation network, and fail to meet the needs of single-parents or students relying on public transit. 

Expanding outside of current boundaries also brings higher social and economic costs. The majority of Kamloops’ elementary schools are over capacity. While building new neighbourhoods in the proposed areas such as Edinburgh Heights or Tranquille on the Lake expands our city’s boundaries, they don’t address the current social needs around public infrastructure. These new areas would require new schools, potentially diverting funds from pre-existing schools experiencing some of the highest levels of over-capacity in B.C

It’s important to note that expansive, luxury developments outside our core centre increase the demands on our city’s infrastructure and services, subsequently increasing our property taxes. A recent study released by Strong Towns and Urban3 found that development in car-centric suburban neighbourhoods produces a net negative to municipal budgets, and is subsidized by the net positive economic impact of denser, core neighbourhoods. These findings are similar to a recent study in Ottawa that found that low-density development costs the City of Ottawa $465 per person per year, while high-density infill development not only pays for itself, it leaves the City with an extra $606 per capita each year. 

KamPlan identifies projected growth for the outer limits of Kamloops. According to the current StatsCanada data released in 2022, much of Kamloops’ recent population growth is due to its expansions just outside the city’s limits. This “donut-ring” development is occurring on the edge of our city limits and other bordering communities. These new developments come at a greater cost: economic strain (increase of property taxes to supply water/sewer and new schools), social strain (increase of inequities in the community when first time home buyers, lower income families and students are priced out of the market), and environmental strain (loss of ecosystems, agricultural lands and weakened food security). 

Even as we’re so greatly in need of more housing – while lacking the infinite room to grow – we need to seriously consider whether this kind of development is actually meeting the needs of our community. Constricted by geographic and administrative boundaries, we have to be cognizant of the needs of and cost of development in our community. What direction are we growing? Can we use new development to create a more equitable Kamloops?

Growth in the face of climate change

The evacuation of Juniper, the complete eradication of Lytton, and the continuous blanket of smoke in summer 2021 revealed how unstable our future in the interior is with climate change. In the last several years, we have been faced with the impacts climate change will have on our communities in a very visible way. We need to prepare to experience more record breaking heat-waves and wildfire seasons, more extreme rainfall and flooding events, and greater impacts to our regional infrastructure. 

Proposed growth and new housing development must be as resilient to climate change as possible to ensure the longevity and livability of our community. Continuing to develop on the wildland-urban interface exacerbates the potential risks of urban wildfires. This increases the potential destruction of property and life, displacement of evacuees, and increases home insurance and strata fees for all. Building more density in our core neighbourhoods can help mitigate our risk and vulnerability to climate change, while reducing living costs.

The sprawl of our community beyond its currently defined borders also poses concerns for preserving both agricultural lands and sensitive ecosystems. Regeneratively managed agricultural lands and ecosystems provide valuable contributions to our community’s food security and overall well-being: locally grown food, recreational greenspaces, enhanced biodiversity, wildfire prevention, and low-cost sustainable infrastructure for stormwater management are just a few examples. These “ecosystem services” have economic benefits too, as the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative has shown!

We also need to ensure that any new housing we develop is both resilient to climate impacts like flooding, wildfires and heat domes, but also net-zero and energy independent, so it doesn’t further contribute to the problem. NexBuild Construction’s net-zero 4 plex on Schubert Dr. is a great example, and of course we love the shared garden space for urban agriculture too!

KFPC’s Policy Recommendations for Sustainable, Resilient Development and Growth

So exactly what type of regulations, development, or policies can ensure the resilient long term health of Kamloops, rather than developing ourselves into a corner? The following recommendations can guide us to a healthier, happier, and more economically just Kamloops:

  • Including more voices in development processes: We are calling for more deeply inclusive representation in development processes, such as:
    • An inclusive citizen’s assembly or public forum for dialogue to generate creative solutions to housing affordability and availability.
    • A YIMBY (yes in my backyard) campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of multi-family infill development and encourage increased density from secondary suites.
    • Inclusive long-term planning processes.
    • Public hearings that include other community members beyond property owners in neighbourhoods impacted by development proposals. We need to hear from renters, young adults who can’t afford to move out of their parents’ homes, single-parent families, etc. These voices should be encouraged and weighted more heavily given that they experience greater barriers to participation.
  • Flexible development guidelines, regulations, and zoning: We are calling for bold changes to our municipal regulations to support, encourage, and foster infill development and increased density in our core neighbourhoods, such as:
    • Removing single family zoning and adding density bonuses for all new non-profit, cooperative and rental developments, and for any for-profit developments that include additional community amenities.
    • Eliminating parking requirements for all new non-profit, cooperative and rental developments, and for any for-profit developments that include green transportation options.
  • Incentivizing good development: We are calling for the City of Kamloops to actively support creative and innovative models for increasing our supply of affordable housing, such as housing cooperatives and partnerships with local non-profit and for-profit developers. We also encourage our Council and City to advocate for Provincial and Federal initiatives to support affordable infill development. 
  • Protecting our urban wildland interface and agricultural lands: We are calling for greater protection for lands at the boundaries of our established neighbourhoods. Development on these lands must meet higher standards and account for the true cost of the loss of ecosystem services and increased climate change risk.
  • Development accountability and transparency: When development is considered in locations that would contribute to urban sprawl, we are calling for greater accountability and transparency about the full scope of impacts to our city by this kind of development. Our specific recommendations include:
    • Setting development fees at levels that truly cover the impacts and reflect the increased operational costs to the municipality over the long term (including schools, loss of ecosystem services, road maintenance, sewer expansion, and other services). 
    • Advocate to the Minister of Education and Childcare to implement fee increases for new residential developments to support public infrastructure, such as new schools. These measures can help foster equity into our taxation and development. 
    • Completing city-wide analysis of the economic costs and benefits of low-density vs. high-density development so the full scope of these costs are transparent to elected representatives and community members.

This list of recommendations is a living document that will evolve and grow as members of KFPC’s grassroots network engage with research and community voices on this topic. If you have any questions,  please contact us: 

If you’re a municipal candidate and want to support any of these policies in your platform or to discuss further, please reach out to us:


For the full list of Food & the City topics and recommendations, check out our webpage.

How close are we to having a regenerative, just and sovereign food system in Kamloops?


Please join us at our virtual network meeting on Wednesday June 10th from 5:30pm-7:00pm when Emily Pletsch will be presenting her research results on an Assessment of the Kamloops Food System. Following, we will pose discussion questions and have an opportunity to provide feedback on the research.
You can preview the research results we will be discussing during the meeting here.

You can register for the meeting here. The meeting will be recorded for the purpose of gathering and analyzing your feedback. We look forward to seeing you!

In response to Kamloops Mayor Christian’s Task Force on Economic Recovery and Renewal, the Kamloops Food Policy Council has submitted recommendations carefully aimed at leading Kamloops and area towards a sustainable and just local food system that will also become an economic driver for the region. Recommendations include actions that support emergency food providers and short term relief for local food insecure populations, and measures that can help increase community capacity for food production. Our submission also contains recommendations intended to boost the long term economic viability of agriculture in our region. You can read the full submission here:

KFPC Mayor’s Task Force Submission June 5, 2020

The Covid 19 Pandemic has created a lot of stress and uncertainty for everyone, but has triggered a renewed interest in growing food and cultivating a regenerative food system.

The KFPC is launching a “Resiliency Gardening” Campaign to get behind this movement. It’s all about encouraging people to share and work together to grow more food locally. It’s also meant to be fun and full of healing for body and spirit in these stressful times. Some of the initiatives we’re working on are:

1) Butler Urban Farm – A community farm on Clapperton Road across from the food bank. The KFPC has hired a garden manager and applied for funding through Canada Summer Jobs to hire one or more assistants. We want to grow as much food there as we can and we’re looking for people who are interested either in helping out in exchange for a share of the produce, or taking over a small section to work on their own. Contact if you’re interested in either of those options.

2) Online Gardening Classes – These classes are sponsored by the Kamloops Naturalist Club’s Next Generation program and will be offered first to Butler Urban Farm volunteers. If space is available they will be open to any KFPC members as well as the general public. to find out more contact Jesse Ritcey at .

3) Garden Sharing – The Young Agrarians have launched a free online gardensharing platform. It’s easy to use and already has one Kamloops listing. If you have garden space to share or you’re looking for garden space, check it out here.

4) Revamped GAP – Mariana Guerra is back again this year as our Gleaning Abundance Program Coordinator, and will be exploring ways to revise the GAP model to adhere to evolving social distancing requirements and at the same time, make it more neighbourhood-based and less reliant on coordinator time. To register a tree or garden, or join our gleaning crews, go to our GAP webpage.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the BC Seed Gathering at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in Richmond, BC. This bi-annual gathering brings together members of the BC EcoSeed Co-op, Seedy Saturday/Sunday and community seed library organizers, as well as  students from KPU’s Sustainable Agriculture Program to network, learn more about growing and saving seed, and get inspired from each other’s work.


And inspiring it was! From the opening address by our Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham, to the carrot-tasting and judging, there was plenty of passion and cause for celebration. Ms. Popham told us she would like to rename her Ministry the “Ministry of Agriculture, Fish, and Food Systems” – which sends a clear message that she understands and values the interconnectedness of ecosystems. It is also reassuring to learn that she co-founded the first certified organic vineyard on Vancouver Island and has been a longtime advocate for vineyard workers and food producers.

Other sources of inspiration were the many organic growers who can talk for hours about different kinds of beans or squash, and the energetic instructors from KPU’s Sustainable Ag program, who gave us a tour of their teaching farm near the KPU campus, including moveable “high tunnel” greenhouses, a geodesic dome, and their mobile seed-cleaning trailer, which just happened to be getting prepared for a trip to the Shuswap to help clean a massive amount of industrial hemp seed for Green Future Industries in Chase.





As the organizer of the Kamloops Community Seed Library, I was excited to meet other seed library organizers and chat about how they operate. The Kwantlen Seed Library is housed in several “antique” card catalogue boxes, which the organizer was lucky enough to find at an estate sale. They are ideal for storing and displaying seed collections and we at the KFPC would love to get our hands on something similar. If anyone ever comes across old card catalogue boxes or cabinets, please let us know!


The vision of the Kamloops Food Policy Council is a food system that is regenerative, sovereign, and just, and it is reassuring to know that so many knowledgeable, committed people in our province are working towards that same goal. I look forward to the next gathering in 2021, to reconnect, and see what new innovations have developed in the world of seed.


Kwantlen Polytechnic’s Geodesic Dome





Half a Million People Experience Food Insecurity in British Columbia, Says New Report 
Northern British Columbia Especially Vulnerable

TORONTO, August 31, 2016 — Almost half a million British Columbians experienced some level of household food insecurity in 2011-2012, according to a new report from PROOF, a research group based at the University of Toronto.

Drawing on data from Statistic Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey, the report finds over one in ten B.C. households struggling to put food on the table in 2011-12. Families with children under the age of 18 were at an even greater risk of food insecurity, with one in six B.C. children living in a food insecure household.

Click here to read the rest of the story and full report!

Victoria residents could soon benefit from the fruits — and vegetables — of their labour.

City council is considering letting residents sell backyard fruit and veggies at urban roadside stands to improve local food security.

Here is the link to the CBC article:



The Kamloops Transportation Master Plan (TMP) is intended to guide the planning and implementation of transportation improvements over the next 10 to 20 years. Between now and 2035, our population is expected to grow from a population of 86,000 to 120,000. At the same time, the City has committed to significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and has set transportation related sustainability targets.

Public input is essential to ensure the final Transportation Master Plan is created and supported by community members and is adopted by Council.

Survey Length: 15 minutes

Take the survey here!

So much of the work in advancing local food policy is about relationships, partnerships, and collaborations across multiple sectors. A critical first step is to begin to reach out to people and develop relationships. Is there a community dietitian in your local health authority who can help connect you? Is there a food policy council you can get involved in? Find your entry point. That work can feel long and slow but it is building the foundation of relationships which is what this work ultimately comes down to.

-Brent Mansfield, Director, BC Food Systems Network

“Downtown at the Market” Feasibility Study Public Open House

Kamloops and the surrounding region have a long history of ranching, agriculture, and indigenous

food systems, as well as developing innovative approaches for food and agriculture in urban and

rural areas. One such idea is an all year round indoor food market called “Downtown at the Market”.


Wednesday, 13 April 2016 from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM (PST)


Terra Restaurant, 326 Victoria St., Kamloops.