Lantzville hashes out urban farming options

The District of Lantzville has wrapped up public consultation meetings for urban farming. New policies will be recommended next month.

Smell continues to rank as the No.1 concern in Lantzville’s urban agriculture debate.

The District of Lantzville recently wrapped up public consultation on urban farming, geared at helping it consider new policies to allow people to sell what they grow on residential land.

Early results of an online questionnaire and idea jam show people want to resolve the urban agriculture debate once and for all, but are still divided over whether the practice is best for residential neighbourhoods, said Meredith Seeton, Lantzville’s community planner.

Potential smell from raw manure ranked as a top concern, followed by traffic and water quality. Seeton said residents seem to show support for limiting the application of raw manure and the district could consider using its nuisance bylaw to handle odour problems.

“[Overall, the consultation] was really productive and a step towards healing as a community. People needed the extra opportunity to talk things through before being face-to-face with a potential bylaw,” Seeton said, adding that people worked together at a recent idea jam to mitigate potential negative impacts.

“Some community members seemed to be saying, yes, it’s hard to completely eliminate all potential nuisance concerns and any risks associated with manure, but there are also long-term risks associated with not boosting local food production. Council will have to decide how to balance those risks and the various community perspectives.”

Lantzville officials resurrected public debate on urban agriculture in June, as they agreed to consider allowing horticulture as a home-based business. The community has been grappling with ways to deal with urban farming since 2010, when the municipality and Compassion Farm went head-to-head over a commercial food operation.

Jamie Wallace, spokesman for Friends of Urban Agriculture Lantzville Society, said the district’s zoning bylaw is outdated, handcuffing the community’s ability to sell surplus foods and start up non-traditional home-based businesses.

Under the zoning bylaw it’s illegal for people to sell what they grow on residential lots. He said he applauds the latest efforts to collect public feedback and looks forward to seeing new policy options.

“We are in favour of urban agriculture in residentially zoned areas, but the whole purpose of this is to see what the community wants,” he said.

There have been 89 responses to online questionnaires and 40 people turned out to an agriculture jam Sept. 14 to give input on potential new policies.

A report on public feedback collected this summer is anticipated near the end of September and proposed policies will be pitched next month. The urban farming review is expected to cost $5,000.