Growing in the City

Growing in the City is all about enhancing our local, urban food systems on both public and private land.

Urban gardening and food production contribute positively to health and well-being, social interaction, connection to nature, and environmental education, while creating healthy and diverse ecosystems, building communities and our food security.

We want to hear from you!

We are looking for ways to make it easier to grow more food and sell that food right in your front yard or in a retail location.

Did you plant more kale than you know what do to with? Are your bees producing so much honey that you are thinking of packaging and selling it? The City is considering bylaw changes that would allow you to grow, harvest, package, store and sell a range of food anywhere in the city, while limiting any negative impacts on your neighbours.

Please note the new Public Hearing date and opportunity to provide feedback. The date has been changed to provide the required notification to residents, which was not delivered due to a newspaper clerical error.

"Lettuce" know what you think! Please share your thoughts on the four proposed changes below by Monday, September 5, 2016 to engage@victoria.ca. All feedback will be shared with City Council for their consideration prior to the Pubic Hearing.

The community is also invited to speak at the Public Hearing on Thursday, September 8, 2016 starting at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall.

What is being proposed?

1. Allow small-scale food production in all areas of the city
Currently, if you want to grow enough food to sell you have to do so in an industrial zone or on the residential property where you live and package your food. The proposed bylaw change would permit small-scale commercial urban food production (growing food and selling the harvest) in all zones, provided it does not negatively impact neighbours with unreasonable levels of odour, noise or artificial lighting. 

This would expand the range of potential sites for new urban food production businesses to include commercial areas, vacant lots, residential properties, rooftops, institutional properties and other underused sites.

2. No longer require a development permit for small-scale commercial urban food production
Thinking of doing some edible landscaping in your yard? The City is considering eliminating the development permit for certain types of landscaping required for commercial and non-commercial urban food production (e.g. community gardens, community orchards and edible landscaping), unless the installation is being constructed in association with a building, structure or other landscape feature that requires a development permit. 

3. Require a Business Licence to sell food products
The City is considering introducing a business licence to sell unprocessed food products both off-site (retail stores, restaurants, etc.) as well as on-site (food stands, farm produce box pick-up, etc.) For off-site sales, urban food producers will need to obtain a year-long business licence for $100. Two on-site licence options will be offered, a three-month on-site business licence for $25 or a year-long licence for $100.

To limit impacts to the neighbourhood, loading the products into a delivery truck would be allowed one time per day, between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on a weekday or Saturday; and between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Sunday or a holiday.

4. Update the Official Community Plan
The City is also considering a change to the Official Community Plan to clarify that built development e.g housing, office and retail will be considered as a higher priority than small-scale commercial food production. This change would balance food security and production with the City’s objectives for new housing and development.

The staff report with the proposed changes was presented to Council on July 28, 2016 and can be viewed here (item J. 3.)

Here are some of the ways you can start 'Growing in the City':

Boulevard Gardening
Boulevard Gardening Guidelines have been designed to help beginners and experts garden on City of Victoria boulevards more confidently and responsibly. Learn how you can transform the boulevard beside your property into a beautiful and healthy garden.

Community Gardens and Orchards
The Community Gardens Policy encourages local non-profit organizations to establish community allotment gardens, commons gardens and orchards. Find a community garden near you or learn about starting your own.

Other ways we're getting growing:

Urban Food Tree Stewardship Pilot Program The City is developing a program where residents, through a community organization, can plant and maintain five or less fruit and nut trees in a local green space. The City will work with the community organization to find suitable locations. More information will be posted here in the coming months.

Inventory of City-owned Land for Community Food Growing An inventory of all City-owned properties is currently in development. Once complete, it will provide guidance on suitable land for gardening activities, assessing properties technical suitability and ranking them into one of four categories. Community projects on these sites would also be subject to public consultation. More information will be posted here in the coming months. 

Funding for the Compost Education Centre
The City provides a Strategic Plan Grant to the Compost Education Centre in Fernwood, where the public can learn composting and organic gardening skills. In 2016, the Compost Education Centre is using these funds for Healing City Soils, a soil testing program in partnership with Royal Roads University.

Micro-grants
City micro-grants, up to a maximum of $500, are awarded to cover supplies needed for food production in community gardens.

Community Garden Volunteer Coordinator Grants
City grants are available to neighbourhoods that have community gardens that are established under the City’s Community Garden Policy, where food production is the primary focus. The grants are intended to provide funding for a person to coordinate volunteers.

Chicken Friendly Bylaw
We have an Animal Control Bylaw that permits an unspecified number of chickens, with few restrictions, making it one of the most permissive in North America. 

Small Steps Edible Garden at City Hall
The Small Steps Edible Garden has been created in partnership with Our Place Society, whose staff, family members and volunteers maintain and harvest vegetables for its lunch program. The garden is located in Centennial Square. 

Kitchen Garden Project
The City partnered with the Fernwood Community Center to transform 1,800 square feet of decorative garden beds into edible food gardens that are now managed by the Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group. The gardens are used to educate, inspire and supplement some of the 700 snacks and meals the centre provides every week to program participants.