The City of Surrey and District of North Saanich have both won inaugural Leadership and Innovation in Agriculture awards, presented by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM), the BC Agriculture Council (BCAC) and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The City of Surrey received an award for their BioPod Initiative, which aims to stimulate agri-tech development, provide opportunities for careers in agriculture and strengthen the local food system. The BioPod is a partnership between the city, the University of the Fraser Valley and the John Volken Academy, a Surrey-based addictions recovery institution. BioPod provides agricultural skills training and certification for academy students, builds the qualified labour force for greenhouse operations in the region and provides a commercial greenhouse for agri-tech development and demonstration.
The District of North Saanich was recognized for its role in including farmers in their planning process for the Sandown lands project, and the resulting commitment to develop agriculture resources on the majority of the area formerly used as the Sandown Raceway. In order to develop a shared vision for the future of the site, the district enlisted the assistance of the Capital Regional Food and Agriculture Initiative Roundtable to host a series of community outreach events and ensure the input from the hundreds of participants in the process contributes to determining the future agricultural uses of the site, and enhancing agricultural opportunities in the district.
Applications were adjudicated by the UBCM Community Excellence Awards selection committee, which consisted of four members of the UBCM executive, a past UBCM president, as well as one representative each from Metro Vancouver, the Ministry of Agriculture and BCAC. The awards were presented at the UBCM Community Excellence Awards breakfast reception on Sept. 29, 2016.
In the last 15 years, local governments have become more engaged in proactively supporting Agriculture Advisory Committees, Agriculture Area Plans and adoption of Minister’s Bylaw Standards. All of these help support agriculture in their communities and the Ministry of Agriculture’s Agrifood and Seafood Strategic Growth Plan’s goal of the sector generating $15 billion in annual revenue by 2020.