Growing food not golf: Last round!!
The City staff report on the golf course review is going to Council this Thursday, February 4!
A small reference to urban agriculture was added to the recommendations, but Council still needs to hear that growing food is a priority!
Please join with our allies at Toronto Environmental Alliance and sign their letter to Council https://www.torontoenvironment.org/golf_parklands
If your organization wants to sign on to an open letter, please see https://www.torontoenvironment.org/parklands_letter
You can also write to your councillor and let them know that you want to see food growing in Toronto’s golf courses. https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/council/members-of-council/
Some of our responses
1. Feedback at the consultations supported community gardens and more resources for the City’s community garden program. See the consultation summary at https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ie/bgrd/backgroundfile-174602.pdf.
2. Food growing happens at golf courses in other cities. Some examples:
3. More space can be made available to avoid conflicts by moving to a 9-hole model (which is becoming popular with golfers and is recommended at the Dentonia Park site).
4. Flood plains were not identified as an issue at Dentonia Park and Tam O’Shanter. They were mentioned as two possible sites for food gardens. https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/planning-development/construction-new-facilities/improvements-expansion-redevelopment/review-of-city-golf-course-operations/
Dentonia Park is particularly important as it has a high proportion of high-rise dwellers and long wait lists for community garden plots. The report recommends a master planning process for Dentonia Park, so there will be more opportunities to speak up for food there in the future.
5. This is an opportunity for the City of Toronto meet some of its local and international commitments, including:
- Black Food Sovereignty Plan https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2021/ec/bgrd/backgroundfile-170565.pdf
- Cool Food Pledge https://www.wri.org/initiatives/cool-food-pledge
- C40 Good Food Cities https://www.c40.org/cities/toronto/ (including the C40 Equity pledge)
- Milan Urban Food Policy Pact https://www.milanurbanfoodpolicypact.org/
- Toronto’s Official Plan (names food and gardens as important ways to create green and liveable cities) https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/planning-development/official-plan-guidelines/official-plan/
- Toronto Food Strategy https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/health-programs-advice/toronto-food-strategy/
6. If not golf courses, where can we grow food?
The staff report also states:
“Within PFR, the Division is also reviewing PFR-focused food growing offerings such as community and allotment gardens. Further work on the potential of integrating food growing infrastructure with park lands will be undertaken in alignment with these initiatives to support a comprehensive and collaborative response to addressing food security and access to food growing opportunities.”
We agree that community and allotments gardens should be receiving more support! This statement is vague and doesn’t mention any specific actions or timelines. If not golf courses, where else are we creating spaces to grow food?
And a question…
If the City can contract non-core golf operations out to a private for-profit operator, why not contract out a food growing project? This could be a for-profit operator (like Fresh City Farms at Downsview Park) or a non-profit (such as FoodShare).
This arrangement is nothing new, it already exists with many community gardens in Toronto and the CEED Garden project in Hydro corridors.
Some positive aspects of the plan:
- Increasing accessibility to green spaces by opening trail networks and offering winter uses
- Creating opportunities for Indigenous land stewardship, cultural practices and economic activities (if these opportunities truly respect the guidance and priorities of Indigenous communities)
The full paragraph on food production from the staff report https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ie/bgrd/backgroundfile-174599.pdf (page 13):
“With regard to food-growing opportunities on the golf course lands, several challenges were identified through staff analysis including the risk presented by floodplain lands to food growing operations, as well as conflicts between golf operations and food growing. PFR is also working with other divisions on ongoing strategic plans and initiatives focused on food which are identifying more feasible opportunities and locations to advance food initiatives. For example, PFR is currently working with Social Development, Finance and Administration (SDFA) as an implementation partner on the Black Food Sovereignty Plan adopted by Council on October 1 and 4, 2021. Within PFR, the Division is also reviewing PFR-focused food growing offerings such as community and allotment gardens. Further work on the potential of integrating food growing infrastructure with park lands will be undertaken in alignment with these initiatives to support a comprehensive and collaborative response to addressing food security and access to food growing opportunities.”