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City hopes to grow agriculture with latest strategy

Yellowknife city council has approved the implementation plan for its latest food and agriculture strategy.

The GROW strategy sets out a number of short team goals, including integrating urban agriculture into city bylaws — a bylaw review is currently underway — as well as expanding opportunities for urban greenhouses and providing more funding for projects in Yellowknife.

On Monday, council approved a budget of $15,000 over the next two years to support programs to reach the goals.

Despite some farmers saying the strategy didn’t provide enough support, Yellowknife farmer France Benoit, owner and operator of Le Refuge urban farm, urged councillors to approve the plan.

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Councillor Shauna Morgan raised concerns about providing support to the agriculture industry which already pays lower property tax rates than other commercial businesses. Councillor NIels Konge raised similar concerns in a meeting in March.

But Benoit said directed supports are present in several policies the city has, citing the memorandum of understanding city council is considering signing with the mining industry.

“I’m begging you to treat food production differently because it is different,” she said.  “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot if we’re treating what literally keeps us alive the same as any other industry.”

In a meeting in March, several urban farmers called on city council to do more to support them if they’re serious about a food and agriculture strategy.

A food and agriculture strategy was first announced in 2019 with the hope it would boost the economy and food security at the same time.

The city’s economic development strategy, which was passed on Monday, agriculture and food are highlighted as one of the city’s key sectors.

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