"Maybe they just don’t like goats?"
This was our first impression following the last council meeting, it seems that some of the elected representatives of the City of Castlegar have a different perspective on food security and sustainability than many people in this City and region. When presented with an opportunity to review the current animal control and zoning bylaws to permit small-scale "urban agriculture", as is permitted in cities such as Seattle, it seems our Council, rather than having a rational discussion, opted instead to poke fun at the suggestion that urban hens and miniature goats may be a step closer to a sustainable Castlegar.
Only one councillor decided to contact us regarding the letter, supporting further discussion, and none of the others have had any questions for us prior to the meeting or since. Which is surprising, considering that a City report from December 2007 states, "little to no planning has been undertaken for the Castlegar area on issues related to the maintenance of a healthy, nutritious and sustainable food supply". Would it be too much to expect the City to entertain a discussion on this simple proposal that may meet this very objective?
Chickens and miniature goats do make great pets and can be productive members of a household, cleaning up scraps, pulling weeds, providing manure for productive vegetable gardens and "mowing" the grass. In addition they can providing eggs and goats milk for the household. Less oil used mowing the lawn, less fertilizer, less herbicide, less waste, and organic produce – this is a key part of sustainable urban agriculture, and is an easy way to teach children about healthy food, farming and caring for animals.
With gas prices increasing weekly it is inevitable that the impact of this will be reflected in the cost and availability of food. Years ago, the Kootenay Region was a net exporter of food, now, by my estimate, we import up to 95% of all the food we consume. Transporting all that food costs money, and it isn’t going to get cheaper. Let’s see some support for a local Farmer’s Market, with truly local produce!
Knowing where your food comes from is important in these days of large scale farming, fertilizers, hormones, battery cages and genetically modified foods. Contact me at UrbanWorkbench.com to show your support, you can also read the original letter with more details about our proposal.
This is just one idea, but let’s talk about what makes a City sustainable, and how we can all work together to make Castlegar a healthy, sustainable place to live.
This letter appeared in the July 3rd Edition of the Castlegar Current. You can read all the posts regarding this topic here.