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A seat at the table : planning for collaboration in local food systems at the Vancouver Board of Parks… Hsieh, Jason Nov 30, 2013

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A SEAT AT THE TABLEPlanning for Collaboration in  Local Food Systems at the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation    JASON HSIEHA SEAT AT THE TABLE: PLANNING FOR COLLABORATION IN LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS AT THE VANCOUVER BOARD OF PARKS AND RECREATION  by  JASON HSIEH  B.A., Simon Fraser University, 2007  A PROJECT SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS (PLANNING)  in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES  School of Community and Regional Planning  We accept this project as conforming to the required standard  ......................................................  .....................................................  .....................................................   THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA November 2013 ? Jason Hsieh, 20135ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSFirst and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Lindsay Cole for inspiring and mentoring me in my professional and personal development.  Special thanks go to my faculty supervisor Mark Stevens for his guidance, constructive suggestions and willingness to give his time so generously.  I am grateful to Stephanie Lim, who has been my moral compass and the voice in my head that reminds me to ask the big questions.  And last but not least Thien Phan for being my champion and encouraging me to take on new challenges.I would like to acknowledge the staff at the Vancouver Park Board and members of the Local Food Assets Task Force, who were instrumental in making this a truly rewarding experience.I would not have been able to accomplish this project without my dear friends:  Ashley Lowcock, for being my rock and keeping my perspective on the important things; my number one Zak Bennett, who I could always rely on for sound advice; Hannah Reinhart for checking in when I?ve checked out; and Rupert Campbell for his constant words of support and encouragement. Lastly, I am grateful for my Grandmother and my family for their endless support and unwavering patience over the past several years.  1  INTRODUCTION 1.1   FOCUS AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS 1.2   POLICY BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE 1.3   REPORT OUTLINE 1.4   METHODS2  LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1  ISSUES IN URBAN FOOD SYSTEMS 2.2  FOOD PLANNING IN MUNICIPALITIES3  THE VANCOUVER CONTEXT 3.1   FOOD SYSTEM GOVERNANCE 3.2   FOOD POLICY DEVELOPMENT HISTORY 3.3  THE PARK BOARD AND ITS FOOD SYSTEMA SEAT AT THE TABLE6CONTENTS899101011111318192122Table of Contents 74  THE LOCAL FOOD ASSETS TASK FORCE 4.1   TASK FORCE OBJECTIVES 4.2  OPERATIONAL COMPONENTS 4.3  COMMUNICATIONS AND FEEDBACK 4.4   PRIORITISATION CRITERIA FOR ACTIONS5   RESULTS & DISCUSSION 5.1   THE LOCAL FOOD ACTION PLAN 5.2   ADDRESSING THE TENSIONS OF PLANNING        FOR FOOD SYSTEMS IN PARKS AND RECREATION 5.3   THE PEOPLE AT THE TABLE 5.4   FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION6  CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS 6.1  CONCLUSIONS 6.2   EMBED FOOD SYSTEMS WITHIN THE        ORGANISATION 6.3   DEVELOP A COLLABORATIVE CULTURE 6.4   MAINTAIN MOMENTUM AND CREATE LEVERAGE         POTENTIALS 6.5   SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH  WORKS CITED  2627273031 333333353740414142434546Plants climbing along hand-made trellises at Strathcona Community Garden1 |  INTRODUCTIONIntroduction 91.1  FOCUS AND RESEARCH QUESTIONSVancouver?s parks and recreation system constitutes a significant proportion of city?s capacity to promote local and sustainable food systems.  The Park Board has jurisdiction over the city?s 200+ parks, 24 community centres, employs hundreds of staff, and could better support the City of Vancouver and numerous agencies with its considerable number of public assets.  This project introduces the Local Food Assets Task Force (hereby referred to as ?the Task Force?), a Park Board initiative aimed at ?identif[ying] opportunities to expand the creation, provision, operation, and facilitation of additional food assets in the parks and recreation system? (Vancouver Park Board / LC, 2012), and assesses the involvement of planners and stakeholders in meeting broader food systems goals.   This report focuses on three components of the Local Food Assets Task Force:1. The role of planning in translating broad level food systems goals into implementable actions within departmental contexts2. The Task Force?s support for garnering inter-agency and multi-stakeholder involvement in the plan-making process3. The effectiveness of methods employed to identify and prioritise actions within a parks and recreation contextThe path to sustainable food systems varies from locality to locality, each embedded in particular historical and political contexts, and implemented by institutions with different organisational cultures and arrangements.  The ultimate goal of this report is to explore the Task Force?s collaborative process, and derive lessons to guide future planning undertakings across city departments, agencies, and community partners.1.2  POLICY BACKGROUND AND RATIONALESince its introduction in 2011 as part of the political agenda of a newly elected mayor and council, Vancouver?s ambitious campaign to be the world?s Greenest City by 2020 signified a reorientation of public policy goals towards addressing environmental challenges in the city.  Among the ten goals in the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan is to ?become a leader in urban food systems? ? a goal that builds on the progress made by city staff in the past decade.  From the formation of the Vancouver Food Policy Council in 2004, to the development of the Vancouver Food Charter in 2007 that outlines broad visions and goals to achieve ?just and sustainable food systems? (City of Vancouver, 2012), and finally to the recently released Vancouver Food Strategy which outlines specific actions and targets, Vancouver is certainly seen as a hotbed of a bourgeoning food movement and a leader in North America.The City?s Board of Parks and Recreation, a separately elected body of seven commissioners that has exclusive jurisdiction over the city?s parks and community recreation centres, aims to be a key partner in supporting the local food system efforts.  Park Board commissioners passed the Local Food Action Plan on July 8th, 2013, which outlined 55 actions to be undertaken by the Park Board that aligns parks and recreation operations and programs to the City?s broader food system aims.   The Plan was crafted over the course of one year by the Local Food Asset Task Force, mandated to identify policy recommendations and key actions that were feasible, actionable, and that benefited from the institutional knowledge and expertise from personnel across various departments and facilities already engaged with food-related work.  The planning process integrated key departments within the Park Board and the City, and included representation of other key institutional and community partners.A SEAT AT THE TABLE101.4  METHODSThe primary research objective was to capture the essence of the Task Force process and the mechanisms that facilitated stakeholder input, interagency cooperation and involvement.As the primary research support graduate student for the Task Force, I attended the majority of working group meetings as well as all Task Force committee meetings.  Informal interviews were also conducted with members of the Task Force and working group chairs via telephone and e-mail correspondence.  Because I was present for the majority of discussions in the Task Force and its working groups, I am uniquely positioned to offer a perspective on the Task Force.  I was privy to conversations and on site to observe more nuanced dynamics that might not be captured in documentation such as meeting minutes.The chronology of Vancouver?s food policy was captured through a review of City of Vancouver documents, as well as accounts captured in several academic articles authored by Wendy Mendes, who has completed a considerable amount of research on the City?s food policy development.  Thematic reviews were conducted on food systems planning in North America and the role of planners in supporting local and sustainable food within the municipal governance context. Key outputs from this process include an assessment of key attributes that supported stakeholder and agency involvement, as well as recommendations for next steps.  Until the adoption of the Local Food Action Plan, the Park Board had no formal mandate to support the City?s food policy goals.  However, board-managed parks and facilities contributed significantly to the social and physical infrastructure of the city?s community-based food system: some of Vancouver?s largest and most established community gardens, such as Kitsilano Community Garden and Strathcona Community Garden, are on park land; a number of community kitchens and food programming for city residents take place at community centres; half of Vancouver?s farmers markets are in or adjacent to city parks.  The Action Plan formalised these commitments as a vital part of the Board?s mandate, and seeks to better integrate its assets in the support of more sustainable and accessible food systems.1.3  REPORT OUTLINEThis project report contains five sections.  The first outlines key issues in urban food systems planning, as well as the role of planners in the development of food policy and its integration into urban governance structure.    The second section provides major food policy history and governance context in Vancouver, and introduces key agencies and players, including the Vancouver Park Board.  The third section introduces the Local Food Assets Task Force and the research, consultation, and prioritisation processes undertaken.  The fourth section highlights the main discussion points relating to the involvement of Park Board staff and other agencies in the plan-making process. The final section makes recommendations for future actions, and identifies possibilities for further research.Literature Review 112 |  LITERATURE REVIEWphysical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life? (FAO, 2013).  In North America, the proliferation and diversity of efforts point to a broadly based articulation of an alternate food system model that aims to move food towards greater social equity, environmental sustainability, and community resiliency (Caton Campbell, 2004).  The following sections assess some of the major focuses of urban food systems research, common responses undertaken by local food systems advocates, and some of the critiques to these approaches.Environmental sustainabilityTechnological advancements have facilitated the physical and psychological distancing of food production and urban living ? typical food items found at North American supermarkets travel, on average, between 2,000 to 2,400 kilometres before being consumed, relying on carbon-intensive global transportation networks to bring food to the table (Hendrickson, 1996).  Competing land uses such as residential developments, in combination with a global commodity market that allows for inexpensive food from distant farms to reduce the demand for locally produced food, has helped to diminish the stock of arable land and land in production in North America near urban centres (Tweeten, 1998).  Furthermore, existing farming operations throughout North America have grown to immense sizes and largely rely on chemical inputs to increase production yields, resulting in vast fields of monoculture with implications for biodiversity and ecosystems (Caton Campbell, 2004).2.1 ISSUES IN URBAN FOOD SYSTEMSFood Systems are defined as ?the chain of activities connecting food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management, as well as all the associated regulatory institutions and activities? (Pothukuchi & Kaufman, 2000).  An expanding body of literature assesses the impacts of global food commodity market and large-scale industrial agriculture, which are oriented towards maximising profits at the expense of social, economic, and ecological considerations (Caton Campbell, 2004).  In addition, there has been a growing focus on cities as an important focal point in achieving greater sustainability and resiliency within the food system, as an increasing proportion of the world?s population move into towns and cities (Mendes, Negotiating a Place for ?Sustainability? Policies in Municipal Planning and Governance: The Role of Scalar Discourses and Practices, 2007).  The ways in which food systems affect and interact with demography, transportation systems, settlement patterns, land-use regulations, governance, among other considerations, proposes very specific challenges uniquely urban in nature (Pothukuchi & Kaufman, 2000).  The movement to (re)establish local food systems has generated support from broad cross sections of society ? community activists, researchers in agriculture, environment, and public health, social and environmental entrepreneurs, planners, and politicians (Bouris, 2005) (Wekerle, 2004).  The past several decades has seen a proliferation of programs, initiatives, policies, and interventions aimed at addressing the failings of conventional food systems to create genuine food security ? that is ? a state when ?all people, at all times, have A SEAT AT THE TABLE12With consumer awareness growing and culminating into market demand for locally-grown produce, small-scale processed goods, sustainable fisheries and livestock production, local food proponents are organising with the emerging business and farming community to nurture viable localised food economies through which smaller-scale farmers and food processors are able to see greater profit margins from their goods.  Farmers markets are now mainstays in towns and cities across North America; new economic models like community-supported agriculture (CSAs) ? under which consumers also act as investors in farming operations ? and institutional purchasing arrangements that give farmers a stable market for their produce are making local food production more viable (Feenstra, 1997).  In addition, growing numbers of mobile food carts, kitchen incubators, and composting enterprises are helping facilitate this transition.  Developing local markets for producers also has the benefit of putting existing farm land back into production, reducing economic pressures for farmers to sell off arable land to speculators and developers, and lessens the likelihood for municipalities to rezone the area to other uses (Soma & Wakefield, 2011).  The security of markets and tenure are vital to encouraging growth and investment in local food industries, which undoubtedly requires a tremendous amount of work before posing serious challenges to the established food system practices (Thibert, 2012).Public Health, Community Development, and the Right to FoodIn North America, the recent emergence of food issues in popular culture can be largely attributed to the public health crisis that has accompanied modern lifestyles and diets.  The proliferation of highly processed foods has been linked to the epidemic of chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, especially within ?food deserts?, urban areas where access to safe and nutritious foods is limited, and where income rates are typically lower (Beaulac, Kristjansson, & Cummins, 2009).  Gaps Activists in the food movement have employed educational campaigns through media and development of resources aimed at informing the public about the ecological impacts of the conventional food system and increasing consumer demand for local and organic produce, sustainable fisheries and livestock production, and promoting seasonal eating.  A greater number of documentaries and books outline these issues, and have popularised concepts like the 100-Mile Diet that have spawned ?environmentally and edibility-conscious consumers? who support buy local campaigns (Thilmany, Bond, & Bond, 2008).  Likewise, knowledge and literacy about sustainable food systems have spurred efforts to divert food waste from landfills towards composting and food recovery efforts (Heller & Keoleian, 2003).  Local economic developmentRecent scholarly and popular literature recognise the need to understand the geopolitics and market drivers that sustain the dominant food system model, characterised by large-scale commodity crop production and the vertical integration of food growing, processing, distribution and marketing (Morgan, 2008; Caton Campbell, 2004).  The monopolising tendencies and conditions facilitated by governments, multinational producers, processors, and retailers, as well as agencies involved in the commodity trade have devastated local food economies.  Farming operations that once had reasonable autonomy to determine crop varieties and farming inputs are often unable to compete against corporate interests, forcing farmers into contracts with powerful corporations that seek to depress food prices and consequently food quality (Caton Campbell, 2004).  These powerful conglomerates also exert a great deal of control over the consumer choices through their close ties to the retail chains that have replaced small local grocers, with the resulting effect removing money from circulation in the local economies and translating into profits for large grocery chains.Literature Review 13live with security and dignity, now and into the future,? (Activist Researcher Consortium, as cited in Allen, 2010, p. 297).   Rod MaCrae (1999), Toronto?s first Food Policy Council chair, recognises that food security challenges exist along a continuum, and that strategic interventions should move to provide immediate relief (eg. food banks) towards efforts that build capacity and encourage self-reliance, eventually resulting in a fundamental ?redesign? of the food system.  Public health authorities have also taken on leadership in recognising the need to work with community-based organisations to collaborate and fund food systems initiatives that develop longer term solutions to food security, such as Vancouver Coastal Health?s SMART funding initiative (see Lansdowne, 2011).   In New Jersey, Toronto, and other parts of North America, local governments are increasingly taking on key roles in coordinating food assistance programs and food policies, albeit to varying degrees (Wekerle, 2004; Schneider, Rodgers, & Cheang, 2008).  In the context of continuing government cutbacks to social programs and an increasing wealth gap between rich and poor, activists continue to advocate for equitable treatment, improve food access to healthy food in disenfranchised neighbourhoods, and lobby for social program funding.  2.2 FOOD PLANNING IN MUNICIPALITIES?Planners ought not to make any mistake about it: no serious discussion of sustainability ? surely one of the paradigms of modern planning practice ? can long evade food system issues? (Lapping, 2008)Food Systems PlanningUrban planning practitioners and academics have begun understanding food systems as a relevant topic in their work, alongside established fields of transportation, housing, community and economic development, and land use.  The emergence of sustainability as a new in the food system often compound other aspects of social and environmental discrimination, and create complex health issues that are amplified in the context of poverty and racism.  Food bank researcher Winston Husbands (1999) recognised that emergency food relief services like food banks, hot lunch programs, and soup kitchens were mobilised decades ago by charitable organisations as temporary measures to alleviate hunger.  However, these measures do not sufficiently address the structural causes that compromise people?s access to nutritious, safe, and affordable food.In contrast, the term community food security has gained currency among academic researchers, community organisers and activists who advocate for more holistic responses to food systems issues that promote community self-reliance and social justice (Hamm & Bellows, 2003).  Many of food-focused organisations have adopted community development approaches as a means to facilitate the interactions and connections between neighbours and communities that are necessary to overcome social isolation, enhance confidence and self-esteem, and promote newcomer integration and intercultural/generational interaction (Lansdowne, 2011).  Community gardens ? spaces where people can grow produce and plants collectively ? and community kitchens ? groups of individuals who meet regularly to prepare food together ? are common ways through which persons across socio-economic spectrum can connect and generate potential to initiate and root broader conversations around social, political, and environmental issues, as well as develop social capital within disenfranchised neighbourhoods (Hsieh, 2007; Sweeney, 2010).More recently, academics and activists have developed concepts like ?food sovereignty?, ?food democracy?, and ?food justice? to assert the human right to food, contesting the status quo that attributes the ability to access healthy food as a function of social and economic status.  Activists are instead advocating for a food system ?in which power and material resources are shared equitably so that people and communities can meet their needs, and A SEAT AT THE TABLE14community advocates to enact policy changes and remove barriers to community-initiated work (Wekerle, 2004).  Until recently, planning literature and practice had largely ignored food, overlooked as an issue of rural areas or of the private market, and not a place of municipal intervention (Pothukuchi & Kaufman, 2000).  Yet, as Clancy (2004, p. 437) notes, ?[f]ood contributes significantly to the reality and the perception of the ?good life,? and paying more attention could bring significant social and economic benefits.?Planners? Role in Food Systems Governance Another useful focus of food systems literature has been on understanding the role of planners in realising a political and organisational mandate for food systems involvement.  Where there is broad support for local food at the municipal level, planners are often legitimating agents have taken on coordinating responsibilities of integrating food-focused policies within existing legal and policy frameworks (Mendes, 2008).  With the renewed focus of food in the profession, planners are encouraged to refocus their work on enabling previously latent influence on food systems and leverage their authority and functions to act in a number of roles: as ?bridgers? who convene established planning fields and multiple interests around food systems (Caton Campbell, 2004); as researchers who collect data on community food systems (Pothukuchi & Kaufman, 2000); as regulators who negotiate with development and real estate interests to preserve and open up land for urban food production (Thibert, 2012); as advocates who seek to promote public health and access to nutritious, healthy food in disadvantaged areas with numerous community-based organisations (Schneider, Rodgers, & Cheang, 2008).Political leaders have at times been instrumental champions of food programs across North America, helping prioritise them on public agendas and getting paradigm and public health on the urban agenda has required planning scholars and practitioners to re-evaluate the role of municipalities to ?creat[e] political space for the broader food planning community to put food on the policy agendas of every department in the municipal government? (Morgan, 2008, p. 343).  Scholars have pointed out that planners are especially well situated to take on food systems coordination because of their holistic assessments and integrative approach taken to resolving urban systems issues (Morgan, 2008).  Kristina Bouris (2005, p. 32) offers a definition on the role of food system planning: ?food system planning integrates food production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste disposal to enhance the ecological, economic, social, and nutritional health of a community,? where shaping food policy, defined as ?any decision taken by a government institution that affects the food system? constitutes a considerable portion of that work.  Morgan (2008) identifies the ?food planning community?  broadly and inclusively as ?a profoundly diverse and multidimensional community, composed as it is of every profession which has a food-related interest, as well as NGOs that focus on social justice, public health, food security and ecological causes, all of whom are striving to make food policy-making a more open and democratic process? (p. 342).  In all the ways that food is implicated in urban systems, food systems have become, in a relatively short time, the target and catalyst for the implementation of sustainability goals.Because it connects with people in a multitude of ways, food has ?convening power? that helps to bring a broad range of interests from different backgrounds together in ways that proponents working on other social and ecological issues find more difficult to achieve (Morgan, 2008, p. 343).  Planning practice has only recently become interested in food systems, signifying an assuring shift from an exclusively grassroots? driven agenda towards government involvement through resourcing and policy tools to enhance local food systems.  In pioneering cities like Toronto, planners were initially engaged by Literature Review 15ability to plan food systems: political will from councillors that is often required to have food placed on the planning agenda; pressure from community groups that serve as the backbone for most local food initiatives; and institutional will, indicated through a supportive organisational culture and intradepartmental dynamics.  The capacity for planners to steer local food system efforts ? either by initiating, coordinating, collaborating, or advocating ? would be severely limited without these conditions.Integration of Food Systems Planning in City AdministrationThe literature has highlighted the need for more empirical research and detailed case studies of the implementation of food systems planning, especially with a focus on the governance arrangements that facilitate its administration (Bouris, 2005) (Caton Campbell, 2004) (Soma & Wakefield, 2011).  As Morgan (2008) points out, the diversity of food planning models results from the distinctive local contexts, political circumstances, and ?unique, path-dependent history? (p. 346) that approaches are borne from.  The City of Portland?s City Food Policy and Programs highlights the significant diversity of approaches in the emerging field across North America (Hatfield, 2012).  City or grant-funded food planners are embedded into civic administrations in a variety of ways, with many examples initiated within the inclusion of a broader sustainability framework (eg.  Minneapolis, Seattle).  Most are embedded in specific departments: planning (eg. Baltimore, Portland), health (eg. Toronto, San Francisco, Philidelphia), economic development (eg. Newark, Louisville), and social development (eg. Vancouver).  Several operate directly out of the mayor?s office (eg. Los Angeles, New York City, Boston).  These differing arrangements have profound influences on the resources available, the approaches taken, and the strategies pursued to promote local food systems.?the public agencies marching with some direction? (T. Zawacki, as quoted in (Hatfield, 2012, p. 11).  However, there is a breadth of literature that argues that public administrators such as planners have become much more engaged in the framing and institutionalising of public agenda goals through their network relationships (eg. Sehested, 2009; Sandercock, 1998).  Sehested (2009) argues that planners are working in a different governance context than the past, in which they play a more substantive role in enhancing cooperation between civic government and a host of actors from market and civil society.  Public administration academics have argued that the role of politicians in government is often overstated at the expense of public administrators such as planners who are integral in the metagovernance of cities (S?rensen, 2006). Public administrators are engaged in an ?indirect form of governing? that aims to achieve strategic goals in politically complex and multijurisdictional contexts, without relying exclusively on conventional forms of regulation and organisational hierarchy that are ill equipped to work within a fragmented political system.  As planners seek to ingrain food systems into various civic functions across municipal departments and agencies, they often integrate more technical aspects of the profession with the political dimensions.  Planners exercise their influence through interactions with city councillors, city staff, community activists, business leaders, and researchers, seeking to embed ?food systems thinking? by strengthening external partnerships between partner organisations and city agencies (MacRae, 1999; Mansfield & Mendes, 2012).  However, there are a number of factors that can affect the ability of planners to carry out policy goals.  Public administration scholars Stazyk & Goerdel (2010) argue that there is an interplay between the level of goal ambiguity (the flexibility allotted for staff to interpret, conceive, or apply stated goals), level of political support, and degree of bureaucratic hierarchical authority that can enhance or hinder the effectiveness of policy goals. Bouris?s (2005) research on regional food systems planning in southwest British Columbia highlights the governance factors that affect the planner?s A SEAT AT THE TABLE16Planners utilise a number of arrangements to enhance coordination between multiple stakeholder departments and agencies within their respective municipalities.  In cities like Vancouver, Seattle, and New York City, interdepartmental working groups have been formed allowing multiple departments to work on various aspects of the food system and create a more ?cohesive vision? on food policy.  This work is typically supported by community-based food policy councils, which act as advisory bodies with varying degrees of municipal support (Hatfield, 2012).  Also, contributions in research and design from other urban professionals like architects, engineers, and landscape architects are increasingly valuable in the development of necessary infrastructure for an alternative food system (Komisar, Nasr, & Gorolewski, 2009).  Local food systems responses are most effective when relevant stakeholders with the appropriate expertise, training, or knowledge participate in its design and implementation where planners and local government staff are ill-equipped  ? wider involvement from community, non-profit and private sectors can contribute with broader perspectives and institutional knowledge, leverage volunteer and fundraising capacities to advance food policy work being done (Hatfield, 2012).  While planning efforts for local and sustainable food systems generally benefit from broad community and interdepartmental involvement, challenges can emerge from the multiple objectives that involved organisations and agencies bring forward.  Work being done under the umbrella of local food is diverse, and the organisational mandates of various groups are not necessarily complementary.  Allen (2010) argues that social justice and equity are not inherent objectives in the alternative agrifood movement, and activists must continuously and persistently work to ensure that the movement questions not only the ecological implications, but also the political economic structures that are at the root of an unjust food system.  Where eating locally and sustainably is seemingly a consumer-oriented choice and course of political action to non-profit groups that operate farmers markets, addressing issues of hunger, lack of access and capacity to The Portland study also considers how funding arrangements also have a major effect on food systems planners? ability to carry out their work.  Given that the food mandate is relatively new and has not been thoroughly institutionalised in city functions, most arrangements do not provide the food planner(s) with a discretionary budget.  In many cases, the administering agencies that allocate funding for food programs are not primarily food-focused, but have found success implementing food initiatives through effective interdepartmental and cross-agency collaborations.  While this model is advantageous for initiating dialogue and cooperation needed for effective implementation, initiatives may be more vulnerable to decisions made by higher level management that could compromise the ability to carry out longer range strategic planning processes.  It should also be noted that there are varying degrees of stability for existing funding sources, which typically do not include a discretionary budget (Hatfield, 2012).Negotiation of Food System GoalsMendes (2008) and Mansfield & Mendes (2012) note that a major component of initiating this work is contingent on planners involved in food policy to bring relevant actors who have jurisdiction within various food system-related policies to the table and collaboratively generate more responsive policy processes and implementation mechanisms.  Aram & Stratton (1974) claim that interagency cooperation within the public sector often initiates when there is a ?convergence of interests? and an obvious need, even when political directives or funding opportunities are lacking.  Very often the need for effective knowledge sharing can lead to the development of coordination mechanisms between departments (Willem & Buelens, 2007).  In practice, food system planners have often found it necessary to ?take time to understand the priorities of other departments and consider how food can fit into their existing agendas? (Hatfield, 2012, p. 4).  Title of Chapter 17good food may be a more central concern to food justice activists.Food systems planners must mediate the integration of multiple priorities as planners must often be persuasive in garnering departmental buy-in to move away from ?business as usual.?  To embed local food systems into normalised city functions like transportation and housing, planners can ?position it as an issue that contributes and adds value to other city agencies? (Wendy Mendes, as quoted in Hatfield, 2012, p. 24).  Furthermore, proper engagement of stakeholders involved in the implementation is also key, especially those departments and groups that operate community gardens, license farmers markets, and deliver food programs.  As Svane, Wangel, Engberg, & Palm (2011, p. 153) remark, broadening the scope of stakeholder involvement will require stakeholders to define and negotiate roles and responsibilities that inevitably results in tensions, but is ultimately necessary to ?create a sense of joint ownership and more of mutual learning.?A honey bee pollinating lavender shrubs atGrandview Park3  |  THE VANCOUVER CONTEXTA new fence and garden beds atWoodland Park Community GardenThe Vancouver Context 193.1  FOOD SYSTEM GOVERNANCEFederal and Provincial AuthoritiesA number of public agencies at federal, provincial, and regional levels have considerable influence on the food system, and the specific allocation of these powers can empower or constrain the abilities of City agencies to develop food policies and responses to address issues of production, distribution, access, consumption, and waste.  For instance, federal and provincial government ministries share jurisdiction over health and agriculture and divide various responsibilities related to policy development, food regulations and inspections.  The departments of Fisheries and Oceans, Agriculture and Agri-Foods, and Health Canada set nationwide standards on food safety, processing and production, with an integrated Canadian Food Inspection Agency carrying out inspections (CFIA, 2013).In British Columbia, the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for promoting the economic and social interests of food production in balance with environmental objectives.  It is also responsible for supporting a food producing industries in the province (eg. agriculture, fisheries, and aquaculture) through the policy development, inventorying and analyses, program delivery, and support for industry groups that promote local food production.   The Ministry also funds the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), a Crown agency created in 1973 tasked with protecting the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) made up of scarce public and private farmland from sprawling residential, commercial, or industrial development, and the Farm Industry Review Board (BCFIRB) that provides general supervision and hears grievances about industry practices (Yearwood-Lee, 2006).Metro Vancouver The regional political authority of Greater Vancouver, Metro Vancouver (previously known as the Greater Vancouver Regional District), has authority from the Province to provide its 24 member municipalities and territories with core regional services such as the provision of water, sewage, solid waste, housing, air quality, and regional park management services.  The organisation also acts as a coordinating body for municipalities in the region to collaborate on common challenges, as well as a political forum for member municipalities to discuss regional growth strategies among other planning related issues that have affect food systems (eg. agricultural land preservation), although those functions are predominantly consultative.Metro Vancouver (2011) released a Regional Food System Strategy tied into its existing sustainability framework which recognises the need for a regional approach to food systems planning.  While the document identifies a number of potential actions that the organisation can directly take to improve regional food system infrastructure, most major actions listed are recommendations for its constituent municipalities and higher levels of government to undertake.  The overall focus on advocacy and collaboration of this strategy is indicative of the organisation?s lack of jurisdiction over most aspects of the regional food system, which relies greatly on individual city councils to adopt the directions set by Metro Vancouver?s Board and committees.Vancouver Coastal Health Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is one of six regional health authorities in the province, and the responsible agency that provides many of the healthcare services within Vancouver?s city limits (along with Richmond, municipalities on the North Shore, and in the Coast-Garibaldi region).  In 1996, the Province took over responsibilities for health care service provisions from A SEAT AT THE TABLE20coordinated through the Office of the City Manager.  The Charter also delegated the mandate of the city?s parks and recreation system to a separately elected Park Board, which is also responsible for recreational, arts, cultural, and environmental programming, including some food-focused initiatives .As with other municipalities in North America, the City?s role in food systems was largely confined to bylaw enforcement and land use in past decades.  Vancouver does not have any considerable amount of farmland to protect compared to other municipalities in the region, and community-based efforts were largely supported at the discretion of various city staff without a unified framework or explicit mandate.  However, more supportive Councils and City staff in the past decade have resulted in policy changes, public funding and administrative support for local food programming and urban agriculture in the city, including the formation of the Vancouver Food Policy Council in 2004.  Two positions have been created within the City?s Social Policy wing to support and help coordinate food initiatives in the City, and liaise with the Vancouver Food Policy Council (City of Vancouver, 2003). In a city with a substantial immigrant population, high costs of living, and a number of residents with low-income and high barriers to employment, food security is a highly relevant issue that the City has more recently sought to explicitly address (City of Vancouver, 2013).Community-based Food NetworksThe past decade has been notable for the local food movement in Vancouver as it has been in many metropolitan areas across North America, in no small part due to the community efforts that have blossomed in numbers and in breadth.  A major focus of early community-based work was around advocacy and local action for urban agriculture as well as local farmers.  Non-profit organisations like CityFarmer and FarmFolk CityFolk have decades of experience, and are connected with local food producers, community gardeners, and its municipalities, with VCH now responsible for many of the services once provided by the City?s municipal health department.  The agency?s community nutritionists and community developers have been crucial in articulating the importance of healthy eating in the organisation?s mandate, which was explicitly clarified in 2008 through VCH?s food security action framework (Vancouver Coastal Health, 2008).  While the public agency identifies community food security as an issue for all members of society, it specifically points out that vulnerable populations ? demographic groups that face socio-economic barriers such as low-income ? are disproportionately affected by health challenges relating to diet and access to healthy food.  In its support for community-based initiatives that promote health and wellness, the Community Food Action Initiative granting stream provides core funding to key organisations working to improve access and build capacity to better food security (Kurbis, et al., 2006).  VCH staff also works through a number of facilities and work closely with other agencies to coordinate local efforts.  The agency is also responsible for food premise policies and regulations and conducting public health inspections of food facilities, which has bearing on food activities that organisations are permitted to conduct.  City of Vancouver The City of Vancouver is the largest city in the province with over 600,000 residents, and is located within the third largest metropolitan region in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2013).  The City?s current administrative boundaries were set in 1953 under the Vancouver Charter, a provincial statute that offers the City unique and more expansive powers to self-govern and determine craft innovative policies, zoning ordinances, and finance city infrastructure through development levies compared to other municipalities in British Columbia (Punter, 2003).  The City is governed by a mayor and 10 councillors through an at-large system, and operates through 10 departments The Vancouver Context 21Department recognised the link between healthy food and quality of life, and began meeting with community proponents engaged in other activities such as urban agriculture, emergency food services, and community development to address food system gaps around production, distribution, and access (Mendes, 2008). Growing interest in initiating farmers markets, new community gardens, community-based health initiatives, and food programming culminated into a broad-based food movement that included a diverse set of local actors.In 1995, City Council was introduced to the Vancouver Food Policy Organisation, and was made aware of the group?s interest in developing a city food policy that would help advance the multiple objectives of its broad base (Mendes, 2008).  Just years before in 1991, Toronto Public Health authority had formed the Toronto Food Policy Council to act as a government-mandated advisory body, the first of its kind, and no doubt served to inspire local food advocates across North America (Mansfield & Mendes, 2012).  Despite several major setbacks caused by an unfavourable city council, departmental reorganisation, and the dissolution of a City-mandated health authority, efforts in Vancouver were reignited in 2002 when proponents included City staff and councillors in lobbying efforts (Mendes, 2008).Vancouver?s Food Policy CouncilVancouver City Council approved a motion to initiate a Food Policy Task Force in 2003 to lead the development of creating a food policy for the City.  Over the course of a year, the Task Force developed a financial case for the development of a Food Action Plan, and in 2003, Council approved the development of Vancouver?s first Food Policy Council (VFPC) (City of Vancouver, 2003).   The VFPC served as a city-affiliated advisory body made up of a diverse set of local actors who advised on issues related to food, with a focus on environmental stewardship, community development, local food advocacy, and health and nutrition (New York City Global Partners, concerned citizens to ensure that agricultural issues were highlighted as urban issues concerning all residents (Levenston, 2003) (FarmFolk CityFolk, 2012).More recently, a number of neighbourhood food networks (NFNs) ? organisations that work within specific neighbourhoods towards just, sustainable, and secure local food systems ? have gradually emerged as partnerships between public health, housing and social service agencies, community developers, and engaged residents to better coordinate on addressing public health and sustainability (Carr & Fodor, 2012).  Several examples include the Grandview-Woodlands Food Connection, Renfrew-Collingwood Food Security Institute, and the Westside Food Collaborative.  Although each of the NFNs was developed under unique circumstances and with differing mandates and capacities, they share in the dedication to improve community access and capacity to healthy food, especially for the most vulnerable members of the community. Most of the NFNs are funded through an assortment of sources, including City-administered community service grants, provincial funding for settlement programs, VCH grants for programming focused on health and vulnerable population, and grants from various charitable organisations, such as the United Way.3.2  FOOD POLICY DEVELOPMENT HISTORYCoalition for Food PolicyThe formative moments of Vancouver?s food policy history began as conversations between various groups working on food related issues in the early 1990s.  The first food bank opened its doors in 1982 as a way to address increasing hunger that was associated with urban poverty, much like the efforts in other cities across North America (Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, 2013).  Nutritionists from the now-defunct Vancouver Health A SEAT AT THE TABLE22farms, farmers markets, food processing infrastructure, community composting facilities, and neighbourhood food networks? (City of Vancouver, 2013, p. 23).  Most recently, the City has adopted the Vancouver Food Strategy that ?lays out the framework for future actions across Vancouver?s food system? (City of Vancouver, 2013, p. 1).  The Food Strategy was developed over the course of several years, outlines specific essential policies, investments in social and physical infrastructure, and implementing mechanisms needed to meet the goals set in the Food Charter and GCAP 2020.  Actions are categorised into specific areas: i) food production; ii) empowering residents; iii) food access; iv) food processing and distribution; and v) food waste, of which many actions that identify the need to work with other agencies, including ones where the Vancouver Park Board have jurisdiction or are uniquely situated to support food system goals.3.3 THE PARK BOARD AND ITS FOOD SYSTEMThe Vancouver Park BoardThe Board of Parks and Recreation is Canada?s largest elected park board, operating under the Vancouver Charter, a provincial statute that grants it ?exclusive possession? jurisdiction and control of all public parks? in the City of Vancouver (Vancouver Charter, 1953).  The Board, initially assembled in 1886 to manage Stanley Park?s transition as a federally-managed military reserve to a urban park, now consists of a seven person board of commissioners, directly elected by city residents every three years.  This unique arrangement offers the Park Board considerably greater autonomy from City Council than any other parks and recreation department in the country.  2012).  The group was also allotted an annual budget of $15,000 for its operation, including work on food systems research, advocacy, celebrations, and policy and guideline development, and supported by City staff (City of Vancouver, 2003).Food Policy FrameworkThe partnership helped to yield a number of important initiatives, including the Vancouver Food Charter (2007), which outlined the vision and broad based goals that would guide the development of a just and sustainable food system, including the guiding principles: i) community economic development; ii) ecological health; iii) social justice; iv) collaboration and participation; and v) celebration.  This document was useful in entrenching food within the urban agenda, and helped to leverage support for new initiatives and investments that supported the food system (The Ontario Municipal Knowledge Network, 2013).  City councils continued to support food policy, which allowed for the development of food-related bylaws, policies, and guidelines, as well as successful campaigns such as the 2,010 Garden Plots by 2010 challenge that spurred the City to support the development of new community gardens. In 2011 under a new City council and mayor elected under an urban sustainability banner, food was included as part of the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan (GCAP 2020) aimed at transforming Vancouver into the greenest city by the year 2020.  Local food was among the 10 Greenest City goals, which included strategies and targets on reducing greenhouse gases and waste, promoting green economy, and enhancing access to nature through natural infrastructure improvements.  The goal to make Vancouver ?a global leader in urban food systems? was accompanied with a target to double the number of food assets in the city ? broadly defined as ?resources, facilities, services, or spaces that strengthen the City?s food system? (City of Vancouver, 2012A, p. 69).  This included, but not limited to: ?community gardens and orchards, urban The Vancouver Context 23but supports work in rezoning, transportation, and community planning.Planning-related functions are also embedded in a number of other departments and positions.  The Arts, Culture, and Environment team works closely with artists, residents, and community groups on projects related to environmental stewardship and promotion of arts and culture within community centres and parks, as well as a major granting stream that supports community-based projects on public land.  Parks Development works primarily on landscape design and project management within the parks system, and its staff are key to operationalising environmental planning initiatives from the research and planning team.The Park Board?s Existing Contributions to the Food SystemThe unique governance arrangement between the Vancouver Park Board and the City government means that the parks and recreation system operates with relative autonomy from other municipal functions, and that policy directives such as food policy that have been adopted by council do not automatically transfer over without a motion of approval from Board commissioners.  Nevertheless, a great deal of the City?s capacity to develop more local and sustainable food systems lies within the parks and recreation system.  The Park Board is rich in assets: besides being a large holder of public land, it also manages a number of buildings, facilities, has a large inventory of equipment and infrastructure, and staff teams that are embedded in greening operations and programming within neighbourhoods (The Local Food Assets Task Force, 2013).  A number of food activities have long taken place within the parks and recreation system, including community gardens and food programs, such as cooking classes, community luncheons, and food-focused educational workshops.  However, without a coherent policy framework or explicit mandate to support local In addition to the 210 public parks under its jurisdiction, the Park Board also determines the policy direction for its 24 community and recreational centre facilities and programs, and the City?s arboriculture and horticulture programs (The Local Food Assets Task Force, 2013).  Park Board functions are distributed out of four central departments: the Office of the General Manager (communications; corporate services); the Office of the Deputy General Manager (business development, revenue services and fundraising); Recreation (community centre facilities; recreational sports facilities; arts, culture, and environment); and Parks (destination parks; neighbourhood parks and arboriculture; research and planning; park development).  The Park Board?s annual budget for 2012 was $103.8M, nearly 10% of the city?s expenditures (City of Vancouver, 2012B).  Board-managed parks and facilities are well distributed throughout the City ? 18 of 23 city-defined neighbourhoods have at least one community centre within them.  Centres are run collaboratively between the Park Board and a number of community associations, volunteer societies that help allocate funding to support programming within each centre.  These centres do more than provide recreational services; they also act as community hubs that are tied to the social infrastructure of the neighbourhood, mandated to support a diverse array of youth, seniors, and cultural programming that cater to Vancouver?s diverse population (The Local Food Assets Task Force, 2013).Planning in the Park BoardMany of the formal planning functions in parks and recreation are embedded within the research and planning team.  In addition to the team manager, three full-time and three part time positions conduct research and develop plans for a number of portfolios, including: urban forest management, dog parks, biodiversity, bird habitat, local food, and green operations.  Park planning staff work independently from the City?s planning department, A SEAT AT THE TABLE24courses.  Most foods are prepared on-site, with limited offering of convenience foods.  Thirteen concessions located at Park Board beaches are operated through contracts with independent concessionaires with standardised items and pricing.  Offerings include burgers, hot dogs, French fries, fish and chips, ice cream, potato chips and other typical concession fare.   Several stands are open year-round, but the majority are closed in the winter.  A considerable amount of the food and supply purchases for beach concessions and clubhouse restaurants are made through its central warehouse facility.  Supplies are purchased through contracts, using the large quantities purchased to leverage better prices from suppliers.Food Programming  The Board?s Recreation department works with individual community centre associations to offer food programming at its community centres, including community kitchens, cooking workshops, and community luncheons.  Food is well represented in the program offerings of several community centres and less prominently in others, largely at the discretion of centre associations.  23 of 24 community and recreation centres have a built-in kitchen space, and a considerable amount of equipment purchases have been made by centre associations.  At least ten centres have at least one kitchen and are licensed with a health permit allowing for commercial food production.  Nine centres have more than one kitchen facility.  Some of these facilities support childcare services.  The Park Board and centre associations also provide meeting and activity spaces for NFN-provided food related programming at three centres ? with grant-funded coordinators working alongside centre staff to bolster the capacity of these centres? food programs.Composting Facilities  Centre garbage disposal and recycling operations are operated under contracts established by the City.  Three community centres are currently running Zero-Waste pilot projects funded by the City, one of which operates a successful community composting program with an on-site 3-bin composting system that is utilised by the public and centre staff.  There are also food scraps drop-off services being offered food systems, coordination and utilisation of food related activities have been hampered, and have limited the role that the Park Board could play in supporting the food system.  (The Local Food Assets Task Force, 2013) outlines some of the Park Board?s existing contributions:Growing Food  As in many other jurisdictions, community gardens are commonly located in city parks: nearly 1,000, or about one third of the city total) of community garden plots are located in 24 community gardens on park land, and are administered by non-profit societies operating under licensing agreements with the Park Board.  Many feature collaborative growing areas, pollinator plantings, mason bee lodges, apiaries, and educational programming.  Over 700 fruit trees are growing on park land, with a substantial proportion maintained by community gardeners, and several dozen managed in collaboration with community organisations.  The Park Board also has a number of trained horticulture and arboriculture specialists who plant and maintain city parks and street trees on boulevards.  All community gardens, fruit trees and arboriculture and horticulture services are under the management of the Parks wing of the Board.Farmers Markets  Three farmers markets, including the first modern-day market at Trout Lake, are currently located in the parking lots of Vancouver parks, which operate through special event permits at rates established by the Deputy General Manager?s Office.  Licensing policies and fees are currently under review, with the intention of aligning them to City standards to ensure more secure tenure.  Three additional farmers markets are currently located adjacent to city parks on city land, while others access water sources on park land and further utility hookups are being investigated.Restaurants and Concessions  The Deputy General Manager?s Office is also responsible for managing the leases on eleven privately-operated restaurants operating on Park Board land, as well as directly operating three restaurants in the clubhouses of its major public golf The Vancouver Context 25several strategic directions, including to ?[s]upport local food security by contributing to the development of neighbourhood and city?wide food infrastructure programs and assets? under the broader objective of being a ?Leader in Greening? (Vancouver Park Board, 2012A).  The SMP will guide the upcoming five-year capital investment plan that will take place in 2014, which will allocate budgets for various infrastructure expenditures related to park management.  With these two processes happening concurrently, approval of the Local Food Assets task was timely to begin engaging staff, the City, and community partners in determining what investments, changes to policy, mandates, and partnerships are needed to more fully engage and support local food systems efforts.during market hours by a contractor through the farmers market organisation.  Park Board works yards have several composting operations for green waste produced through park operations.  However, none of the operations are capable of processing food scraps.Revising the Strategic Management Plan  Since 2012, the Park Board has been engaged in updating its 5-year Strategic Management Plan (SMP), to meet its vision to ?be leaders in parks and recreation by connecting people to green space, active living and community? (Vancouver Park Board, 2012A).  The Plan identifies Multilingual  compost mixing bins atStrathcona Community Garden4  |  THE LOCAL FOOD ASSETS TASK FORCEThe Local Food Assets Task Force 274.1  TASK FORCE OBJECTIVESOn May 28, 2012, the Vancouver Park Board approved a motion by Commissioner Aaron Jasper to form its first task force in modern times.  The Local Food Assets Task Force was mandated to ?develop policy recommendations and identify opportunities that would increase and integrate local food assets into the Park Board?s parks and recreation system? (Vancouver Park Board, 2012B).  The first step in initiating the Task Force began in 2010 when Commissioner Jasper began attending the VFPC meetings  as the Park Board liaison, a position that had existed since 2004 but was rarely, if ever, present at council discussions.   Regular sustained contact at the meetings, through informal conversations and e-mail correspondences with the chair of the VFPC allowed for ideas to be explored and germinate and the commissioner recognised the potential leadership role that the board could play.Major political and organisational shifts, including a new slate of progressive commissioners elected to the board under the banner of sustainability and the subsequent hiring of a new general manager in 2010, seemed to indicate potential new directions for the organisation.  Commissioner Jasper leveraged his position as an elected official and engaged senior management with the idea of an increased role for food by setting up a meeting where the VFPC chair pitched ideas for Park Board involvement.  After being well received by the general manager, several more meetings took place in 2011, after which it was decided that the board would seek to embed a food-focused objective during the upcoming review for the Park Board?s strategic management plan. Terms of ReferenceUpon passage of the motion to form the Task Force, staff from the planning wing prioritised the Task Force as an opportunity to develop a strategic plan that took seriously a commitment to realising its sustainability mandate, as outlined in the Strategic Management Plan.  The file was assigned to staff from the Planning and Research wing who formulated the Terms of References, which detailed the mandate, membership, working group structure, and meeting frequency for the group that was passed (Vancouver Park Board, 2012C).  According to the Terms of Reference, the objectives of the Task Force were to ?identif[y] opportunities to expand the creation, provision, and facilitation of additional food assets in the parks and recreation system? in a way that ?focuses on action and implementation, building on existing vision and strategy? and ?finds highly creative and innovative ways to address budgeting and staffing constraints? (Vancouver Park Board, 2012C).   The Task Force was to ensure that work done supports the City?s broader goals and strategies for local food systems, as identified in the Food Charter, the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, and the Food Strategy, and results into a final report with policy recommendations and identified opportunities.  The Task Force was to conclude its work by June 2013.4.2 OPERATIONAL COMPONENTSAccording to the planning lead on the Task Force, the structure of the Task Force committee and working groups was intended to provide a collaborative and pragmatic framework for Park Board staff to work with City and community stakeholders already engaged in local food systems efforts.  Selection procedures for members of the committee and working groups, the mechanisms for feedback, and prioritisation criteria for recommended policies and actions contributed to the plan?s responsiveness to the ideas and input from various participants.  The sections below outline the constituent components of the Task Force plan-making process and summarise the activities undertaken. A SEAT AT THE TABLE28Working GroupsStructure  The working groups were the primary mechanisms for gathering key inputs from staff and partners to support the Task Force?s work.  Three working groups were assembled according to the terms of reference, each assigned a specific asset category:  1. Land: urban farming, community gardening, shared production, market gardens, orchards, composting, edible landscaping2. Facilities: procurement, community kitchens, farmers markets, pocket markets, greenhouses, bake ovens3. Capacity building and programs: food access programs, neighbourhood food networks, space provision, funding, Sustenance Festival(Vancouver Park Board, 2012C)Function   The working groups acted as idea generators and sounding boards, ensuring that the knowledge, expertise, and perspectives of relevant staff and partners were present as groups identified and assessed potential food systems actions.  Some participant organisations had either a formal relationship with the board (as some of the NFNs do), experience as regular users of its land and facilities (eg. Farmers Markets), or expertise and experience from their own organisation that would benefit the conversation (eg. the Association of Neighbourhood Houses).  In short, the working groups offered a venue for participants to share and build on their varying and valuable experiences to hopefully draw out pragmatic suggestions with the knowledge of what the best opportunities were and what existing resources were available.  One of the two chairs of each working groups was also a Task Force committee member, which created opportunities for more effective exchange of information Task Force CommitteeMembership  Committee members were identified and chosen by key staff and commissioners under careful consideration, with the aim to be inclusive of major stakeholder groups, to a maximum of ten members.  Members included representation from:  ? Park Board Commissioners & Co-Chairs (2 members)   ? Food Policy Council (1 member)  ? Neighbourhood Food Network (1 member) ? Vancouver School Board (1 member) ? Community organization (2 members) ? Park Board staff (1 member) ? City of Vancouver staff (1 member)Representation was also sought from the community centre associations, but due to the demanding schedule and nature of the Park Board?s renegotiation of the Joint Operating Agreements with the associations, no association representation was present during the Task Force process. Function  The Task Force committee functioned as a relatively small, centralised coordinating body that brought together key personnel with comprehensive understandings of existing resources, City-wide policies, community needs, and Board priorities that was well suited to evaluate potential directions for such a strategic plan. Representation from commissioners were very important as they were the policy makers who had the powers to allocate funding; City and Park staff were key as the coordinating bodies in charge of implementing the proposed actions; representation from the VFPC, NFNs, the Vancouver School Board (VSB), and the community organisations ensured that community input was at the table, and acted as conduits of ideas and opinion for their constituencies as well as potential partners.  The Local Food Assets Task Force 29 ? Revenue services  ? Facilities development (Parks and City).From the other publicly-funded agencies and governmental organisations: ? Vancouver Food Policy Council (VFPC)  ? City of Vancouver ? Sustainability Group  ? Vancouver School Board (VSB) ? Sustainability ? Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) ? Community NutritionFrom non-governmental community groups:  ? NFNs (2) ? Grandview Woodlands Food Connection and the Westside Food Collaborative ?  FreshRoots Urban Farm ? a non-profit urban farming organisation ? Village Vancouver ? a locally-based organisation based on the Transition Town movement ? Your Local Farmers Market Society ? a non-profit which currently operates all the farmers markets on or nearby Park Board land ? Association of Neighbourhood Houses ? neighbourhood-based community service providers, who was brought on later after the chairs saw a specific need.  Guiding QuestionsThe working group chairs were given latitude to determine how discussions were facilitated and formatted, and given flexibility to deviate from those questions where further exploration would be useful.   Each working group was given the following set of guiding questions to initiate discussion:1. What local food assets does the Park Board already have in our land, facilities, and capacity building/programs? 2. Given: the Park Board?s vision, mission and strategic plan; the goals and priorities of the that may not be captured otherwise (The Local Food Assets Task Force, 2012).Selection and Representation  Initially, a list of candidates that included staff in key Park Board and City departments and representatives from community partners was prepared from staff and Task Force member input, and candidates were contacted and invited to join the one or more of the working groups.   A broader call-out was also initiated to reach out to those who may have interest and expertise but were not contacted through the regular channels.  After applications were reviewed, applicants were invited if their experience and knowledge were seen to fill a gap or provide a contributing perspective to the planning process.  Equal representation for each of the three groups was sought ? although in the end, certain working groups had greater numbers of participants than others.  Two co-chairs were selected and assigned to each group, of which one was also a member of the Task Force committee.  The chairs were based on their experience and qualifications in the working group topics.  Only one of the six chairs selected was Park Board staff ? the remainder were representatives of community organisations.32 individuals were involved in the working groups, spanning different backgrounds and organisations, with several individuals participating in multiple working groups.  Representation from Park Board departments at the working groups included:  ? Arboriculture  ? Horticulture  ? Golf course operations (Fraserview)  ? Research and planning  ? Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre ? Strathcona Community Centre  ? Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre  ? Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre  ? Sunset Nursery  ? Communications A SEAT AT THE TABLE30Community centre kitchen infrastructure & use   Online surveys were completed by staff to better understand the utilisation and conditions of kitchen spaces within community centres, which was useful in gaining a general understanding the main users of kitchen facilities, needed improvements, and barriers to greater use.  Centre-run food-focused programs  Existing programs were compiled from published centre guides to understand which centres had integrated food into their seasonal recreation guides. Community gardens and food-bearing trees  Contacts were updated for community gardens on park land, as was general information on numbers of plots and garden layouts.  Along with the gardens, various inventories on food-bearing trees were amalgamated.  Food assets map  Parks and recreation staff collaborated to develop an asset map that identified the locations of park-associated community gardens, food-bearing trees, community centres with kitchen facilities, farmers markets, partnerships in place that supported community food efforts, and infrastructure such as works yards, park field houses, and the nursery that had potential to support local food systems.  The mapping process was intended to facilitate analysis that would guide the development of new resources and connect isolated food assets that would benefit neighbourhood food systems. (The Local Food Assets Task Force, 2013)4.3 COMMUNICATIONS AND FEEDBACKSeveral other events and mechanisms were arranged by the Task Force to facilitate outreach and feedback between Task Force committee and working group meetings to support the action planning process.Vancouver Food Strategy; and the current capital plan and operating budget allocations, where are the gaps, and where are the best opportunities to leverage Park Board assets to better support local food? Of these, what are the highest priorities to implement in the next 0-2 years; 3-6 years; 6-10 years?3. What are some quick start actions that we could get going on while this action planning work is underway?4. Who are our key partners in this work?5. Where are the opportunities to leverage: work that others are doing; funding; partnerships; volunteers; and other resources?(The Local Food Assets Task Force, 2012)Asset Mapping and Research SupportTo support the planning and consultation process, the Task Force required updated data on its existing food assets and infrastructure that provided baselines for the Park Board?s current contributions to local food systems.  Prior to the Task Force?s initiation, data on community gardens, fruit trees, kitchen infrastructure and food programming were largely outdated or incomplete, and any data that was valuable was scattered between staff in multiple departments.  A comprehensive inventory process was necessary to ensure that the Task Force and its working groups had access to records and information on the Park Board?s existing contributions to local food systems.  Food assets were compiled with the help of staff within Research and Planning as well as by Arts, Culture and Environment.  The process was also supported with the help of several university graduate students.  Among some of the efforts:The Local Food Assets Task Force 31Drafted Actions JamboreeOnce the first set of actions was drafted, committee members, working group participants, and a number of senior management staff were invited to review them and offer their input.  A ?Jamboree? was held at Creekside Community Centre where over 30 participants offered comments on the identified goals and actions.  Stations were set up for each of the focus areas (6 were identified, prior to amalgamating them into 4), where participants used markers to mark up large 36? x 48? sheets on which drafted goals and actions were printed on.  Task Force members were also available to chat and mingle during the event. Participants were instructed to help answer the following questions at each station: ? Who are our key partners to this work? ? What are the opportunities to leverage? ? Have we missed anything? ? Given what we want to accomplish, will these  actions take us there? ? What would you like to see in the plan?The event offered the Task Force an opportunity to obtain input from members of the working groups and senior management and gauge their opinions on proposed actions and Task Force processes prior to the more formal process of drafting the plan. 4.4  PRIORITISATION CRITERIA FOR ACTIONSQuickstart ActionsEarly in the Task Force planning process, the planning lead identified a need to identify and generate Quickstart actions ? initiatives that were, pardon the pun, ?low hanging fruit? that could be easily pursued to demonstrate Draft Planning FeedbackDrafted actions were compiled onto spreadsheets and distributed through e-mail correspondence at various stages of formation to keep working groups up to date and offer opportunities for members to raise questions or concerns.  Specific questions to working group members were often conducted through e-mails and telephone conversations.  Task Force members aimed to minimise the risk of ?consultation fatigue? as a result of frequent meetings, and were conscientious that most participants were full-time staff participating ?off the side of their desk?. ?Check Out Our Assets? Evening CelebrationThe Sustenance Festival is an annual weeklong, community-run exhibition that has been held annually at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre since 2009, celebrating local food, sustainability, and culture.  For one of the evenings, the VFPC hosted a night cleverly named ?Check Out Our Assets? as part of generating interest and gathering ideas for the Task Force.  The planning lead commissioned several hand-drawn murals to prompt attendees with questions that they could record on sticky notes, such as: i) What are some existing assets you know about?  ii) What are some assets you would like to see develop?   A panel discussion was held to further explore the topic with representatives from three community organisations involved in food.  Responses from the audience were marked down by a recorder on post-its and added to the murals.  Most discussion eventually focused on supporting urban agriculture, given the Park Board?s most visible role as stewards of the city?s many park spaces.A SEAT AT THE TABLE32Significant ImpactIn both quick-starts and longer-term actions, discussion on ?significant impact? provoked more critical reflection than those involving the other criteria.  While it was seen to be a vital consideration, impact denoted a broader range of qualities that were difficult to qualify and quantify.  In the end, task force members determined that the term represented a set of context-specific characteristics that encapsulated some less tangible qualities that were nevertheless important to achieving strategic goals of the task force.  Some of these characteristics that were identified:1. Reach ? what is the scope and influence of the action in terms of geography, demography, and/or multi-sectoral involvement?2. Capacity-building potential ? how does the action develop individual and community capacities to address food issues and inspire greater involvement in local food systems?3. Replicablility & teachability ? are actions easily replicable from one area or jurisdiction to another?  How transferable are the lessons within the city?  In other municipalities?  Between actors?4. Inclusivity ? how inclusive is the action in involving all residents in the city, including those most marginalised and vulnerable to the conventional food system?5. Ability to sustain for the long-term ? does the action have staying power?  What is its long-term viability? that the recommended actions were indeed actionable.  In some cases, actions were either underway or were nearly ready for implementation.  In others, the planning lead worked between the Task Force and other board staff to move quickly on newly identified actions.  The criteria for prioritising Quickstarts were finalised midway through the Task Force process, with actions having the following requirements:  1. Specific with tangible results2. Existing mandate3. Sufficient existing staff/volunteer/capital resources4. Able to: start right away, show significant progress by June 2013, complete within a year5. Significant impact ? how to strategic goals?Longer-term ActionsLike the criteria for the Quickstart actions, the prioritisation criteria for longer term actions (0-5 years) was drafted by the planning lead and then fine-tuned by the Task Force committee:1. Significant impact ? ability to make progress on the Task Force?s strategic goals (described below)2. Sufficient resources ? resources available and/or are feasible to secure (includes staff time, expertise, information, knowledge, funds, volunteers, accountabilities assigned)3. Momentum ? has excellent leverage potential, and synergy with other projects and efforts (both internally and in community)Results and Discussion 33The plan-making process yielded a number of findings on how the Park Board could improve its contributions to the local food system, as well as its delivery of food-focused programming.  These findings have been translated into potential actions identified in the LFAP.  However, the scope of this paper is to assess the role of the Task Force in bringing relevant parties to the table, creating momentum and agency for change, developing processes and mechanisms for effective participation, and putting together a plan that is conducive to meeting the goals set out in the Task Force terms of reference that is achievable and implementable.  The remainder of the section highlights issues and discussion topics that emerged from the Task Force process, as well as observations from the Task Force and working group chairs on the planning and consultation efforts that were undertaken.5.2  ADDRESSING THE TENSIONS OF PLANNING FOR FOOD SYSTEMS IN PARKS AND RECREATIONWorking group discussions highlighted some of the challenges that staff already engaged in food initiatives at the Park Board face, especially when management may perceive food systems work as a peripheral interest of residents rather than a core function that could integrate 5 |  RESULTS AND DISCUSSION5.1  THE LOCAL FOOD ACTION PLANAfter the staff review process, the final report came forward in the form of the Local Food Action Plan (LFAP), complete with 55 recommended actions distributed between four priority areas:1. Increasing Physical Food Assets2. Sustainable and Local Food Economies3. Engaged and Capacity Rich Food Networks4. Generate Soil through Composting Organic Waste A concise section on implementation identifies Planning and Research, with the support of Arts, Culture, and Environment, as the primary leads for coordination of the LFAP, and identifies key factors that are required for successful implementation of the plan.  It also links the Park Board?s Strategic Management Plan with the goals and principles outlined in the City?s Food Charter and Food Strategy.  The plan itself is relatively concise, consisting of 47 pages and includes with the asset map, graphic illustrations, photos, action charts, and appendices.  It also featured vignettes of four successful food initiatives within the Park Board system, completed by a graduate student intern who was tasked with related research on the barriers and opportunities in creating a closed-loop food system within Park Board facilities.  The Local Food Action Plan was adopted unanimously with bipartisan support by the Board committee on July 8th, 2013.A SEAT AT THE TABLE34accessible spaces for communal enjoyment, not for the private enjoyment of a smaller subset of residents.  Urban farms, likewise, are even more problematic as food grown is typically sold with the prospect for monetary gain to be derived on public land.  Also evident was the fact that park staff recognised that parks are subject to change as demands on park spaces also shift.  The resulting challenge is to determine how food growing operations can benefit the broader community in ways that can be articulated within Park Board missions ? a focus on ?healthy lifestyles?, ?healthy ecosystems?, and ?arts and culture? (Vancouver Park Board, 2012A).Food in RecreationThe role of food in community centre programming varies from centre to centre, and there is no consistency to determine the degree that food should play in community programming.  Most centres carry out cooking classes or community luncheon programs as part of their regular programming schedule just as they would with sports, fitness, arts classes, and other programs with a recreational focus.  Several centres feature food more prominently: food recovery programs that make use of donations, meal programs for children and seniors, food-focused celebrations, and other distribution programs that aim to increase access to healthy food for vulnerable residents.  While it is understood that programs aim to address some kind of food security related need, there are numerous orientations that food programming can take, usually some combination between focuses on recreation, education, charity, community development, social and environmental justice. The diversity in programming can be partially attributed to the Park Board?s unique governance structure.  Community centres have developed over time to feature certain types of programming more prominently, partly in response to the socio-economic and demographic composition of areas in which they are situated.  The professional background of staff, for instance in leisure into other organisational goals.  Over the years, as community gardens and food programming have become more visible in parks and facilities, food has become somewhat more normalised even if it serves an auxiliary function.  Parks and recreation-based interventions on the food system have limitations on what is deemed an appropriate level of intervention, but those limitations were never mulled over.  The Task Force initiated an internal conversation among staff and partners that challenged some of the assumptions and uncertainty that impeded more food systems work.   While no major shift in the mandate resulted from the adoption of the Action Plan, the parameters of Park Board involvement in supporting food systems were more clearly understood.   Some of the highlights from discussions that happened during the Task Force process:Growing Food in ParksOpen park green spaces are sometimes perceived by the public to be the most obvious opportunities to introduce urban farms, food forests, and expand community gardens because they are sometimes perceived to be underutilised.  While a number of the city?s community gardens are already located in neighbourhood parks, Park Board staff must also contend with the multiple demands of different forms of recreation on its land, whether for sports, passive recreation, walking and jogging, and an increasing demand for off-leash dog parks.  While Vancouver?s expansive parks system undoubtedly contains some underutilised space, it is difficult to define and identify where the most suitable food growing spaces are located.  Furthermore, preserving open green space is a key priority for staff who maintain park spaces, especially as urban areas densify and more residents rely more on parks for their access to nature.  Community gardens have become increasingly common in Vancouver, particularly in parks.  Growing food in parks can be perceived as a challenge to commonly-held notions that park lands should remain publicly-owned and Results and Discussion 35Many ideas that were generated were transformed into feasible actions because of important input from Park Board and City staff.  The idea of developing larger-scale projects that highlighted environmental sustainability and closed-loop food system principles generated interest from parks and recreation staff, leading to preliminary discussions on community composting models that could utilise existing Park Board facilities works yards and community centres.  An additional benefit of engaging the broad range of actors was that it pushed Park Board staff to consider bold ideas that would typically not be entertained.  Suggestions to utilise park land as space for urban farming provoked such a reassessment, moving the conversation on urban farms from a choice of whether they should be permitted in parks ? which would allow growers to privately gain from public land ? to, instead, a discussion on the types food growing that would be allowed, and further exploration of alternative models of urban farming that might better fit the mandate of the Park Board in its management of green spaces.The added benefit of such broad based involvement was that the Task Force showed itself to be an inclusive and collaborative exercise, even though not all stakeholders were at the table.  Originally, greater representation from community centre programmers was sought.  Unfortunately, many of those asked to join the working groups were wary of participating due to their demanding schedules and refused because they were not able to fulfill the time commitments.  Participation from community centre associations was also requested, but delicate negotiations on Joint Operating Agreements between the Park Board and the associations impeded their involvement.   The Task Force might have pursued the possibility of arranging a brief focus group with programmers who are familiar with association positions as a way to gather more input.The Task Force did not seek broader public consultation because of the work already completed by the City on the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan and the Vancouver Food Strategy, the limited availability of staff resources and studies, community development, or social work, can also have a degree of effect on how they perceive the mandate of the community centre.  In some cases, the independently-funded NFNs that are embedded within centres are expected to enhance food programming because they may function with a more focused mandate to improve local food security.  Several discussions on the role of individual centres, and the Park Board more generally, on their role in addressing food insecurity, social inequity, and its relation to parks and recreation often varied from programmer to programmer.  These perspectives play a considerable role as to how many staff hours and resources are dedicated to food programming, and how amenable individual centres are to expanding food systems work, in balance with their other priorities.5.3  THE PEOPLE AT THE TABLEEngaging StakeholdersThe Task Force was an opportunity for the Park Board to rethink how it engaged stakeholders in its planning processes more inclusively than it had in the past.  In the context of limited staff resources and timeframes, the planning lead sought to generate the key inputs required from key departments, agencies, and community partners without creating an overly expansive process.  Based on the recommendations of Task Force committee and key contacts within the VFPC and the City, the working group selection process helped focus discussions on implementation.  Considering that community agencies constitute the main driving force behind the Park Board?s involvement in food systems ? community gardens, farmers markets, food-oriented programming and celebrations are all administered by community groups and non-profit organisations ? working groups were able to tap into distinct skill sets and unique perspectives that would not necessarily be present had the planning process been limited to Park Board staff.  A SEAT AT THE TABLE36with visionary goals.  The successful implementation of the Quickstarts also indicated to senior management that resources invested into food actions would be worthwhile considerations that leveraged a great deal of staff initiative and partnership commitment.Strengthening Connections with the CityWith the formation of the Task Force, Park Board planners had for the first time a mandate to support the City in its food systems aims.  In the past, City planners working on various initiatives would have to navigate the parks and recreation system on their own without any considerable support from the Board.  However, the Task Force allowed for the creation of a food portfolio that centralised all planning-related food functions within the Park Board, and provided a crucial connection for City planners seeking to mobilise Park Board resources.  Issues identified through the Vancouver Food Strategy planning process finally had legs in parks and recreation, and a framework for collaboration and coordination between the two municipal bodies was developed.In some cases, the Park Board was able to adopt already-formed action recommendations proposed in the Food Strategy, such as supporting farmers markets with needed policy and infrastructural improvements and improving local and sustainable food procurement policies.  With the improved communication and collaboration facilitated through the Task Force, both the City and the Park Board were offered greater authority and capacity to consider more complex, multivariable actions that would otherwise be unfeasible if considered by either party independently.  For instance, actions that seek to enhance food activities at community centres will require coordination on both sides to tackle barriers such as insufficient staff time and resources, insufficient kitchen infrastructure and programming space, as well as need for greater support for community groups such as NFNs.  The Task Force provided the means for the City to finally engage the tight time frame to conduct the Task Force.  While engagements like the ?Check Your Assets? night at the Sustenance Festival helped generate some basic feedback and ideas for board involvement, it was most useful as an exercise to gauge community interest and share information on the Park Board?s existing contributions to local food systems.  Making the Plan Relevant and TangibleThe yearlong process generated some considerable good will and had largely positive momentum that is a challenge difficult to attain in a planning process.  It was important to ensure that the organisational and political will was in place that would carry the plan through to implementation.  One strategy taken on by the planning lead was to ?find something for everyone?: the scope of the Task Force covered a broad range of topics ? from food production, to procurement, to programming and composting ? even if the strategy made for a logistically-challenging process that required great deal of coordination.  By asking working group members to ?understand the existing contributions? of the Park Board to the local food system, the Task Force generated opportunities for all participants to share their individual motives, to recognise work that has already been undertaken, and to create an overarching vision of the Task Force mission that ties the diverse amount of work together.One way of embodying this approach was through the active courting of Quickstart actions that were either being planned or implemented during the working group sessions, of which nearly all were complete by the time the Action Plan was adopted.  Not only did these actions demonstrate that food planning could be implemented efficiently and feasibly, they impressed on Park Board staff and partners that the benefits were tangible and that longer term actions were achievable.  These actions expressed an organisational commitment to the aims set out, and helped avert skepticism that is typically associated Results and Discussion 37and recreation.  To varying degrees, all working groups highlighted the inadequacies of existing arrangements, the need for coordination, and necessary restructuring within departments or the broader organisation that would need to happen to operationalise many of the longer term actions.  The Action Plan highlights key focus areas for future work and investment, but less clear is how staff will stay in touch with and work with planners, managers, and commissioners as the Plan is implemented and evaluated over the next five years.  Limiting the Scope of WorkThe structure of the Task Force process was to focus working groups on comprehensively covering relevant topics and generating of as many ideas as possible, while the committee was charged with prioritising the proposed actions and providing a more rigourous framework for action.  One positive outcome from this was that working group members equipped with the guiding questions generated dozens of ideas for actions through collaborative brainstorming that focused on utilising existing assets as the basis for action.  Since the more arduous exercise of action prioritisation and selection was tasked to the smaller Task Force committee instead, working groups remained focused on idea generation and were not bogged down with needing to contend with resource allotments, policy direction, and internal mechanisms for implementation.The actions that emerged primarily dealt with logistical issues (eg. updating community garden license agreements), data and research (eg. underutilised land inventorying), and the need for new policies (eg. local and sustainable food procurement).  However, this structure was less valuable in identifying collaborative mechanisms needed to collectively address complex, systemic issues already well known to staff members in the programming and capacity working group.  The working group sessions did help highlight and legitimise these concerns, but were not the appropriate venue to explore these issues because community centres as potential partners and include them in developing more holistic responses to food systems issues.  5.4  FRAMEWORK FOR ACTIONUnderstanding the Visions and GoalsThe Task Force greatly benefited from the considerable amount of food policy work done by the VFPC and a number of City staff over the past decade.  The goals and principles took hundreds of hours of volunteer and staff time over years to draft and complete, engaging numerous community organisations and residents across the city.  By adopting the principles, goals, and identified actions in the Vancouver Food Charter and the Food Strategy, the Park Board was afforded a solid framework and clear direction to develop the Action Plan that ensured more speedy action planning connected to broader citywide priorities.  Nonetheless, there were pitfalls to adopting the vision and principles from the Food Charter and Food Strategy.  As most of the working group participants were not involved in the development of either, it was not instantly clear in the first working group discussions how these policies were tied to the Task Force process.  In planning literature, visioning and goal setting are often considered two of the most crucial and formative processes in planning processes, especially when they involve complex issues.  A guiding document summary that was developed to make the links between the Charter, Strategy, and the Task Force mandate more explicit was extremely valuable to working group discussions, and should be considered in future planning undertakings.One goal that could have been explored more fully during the working group process was to identify the potential ways that implementing staff and partners could work together with planners and management to carry out food systems work effectively within parks A SEAT AT THE TABLE38Allocating the Needed ResourcesFrom the onset, the Task Force model was envisioned as a way of generating the necessary input to form food systems policy recommendations and action plans with limited amount of staff resources.  At its conclusion, about 610 hours of staff time and 850 hours of volunteer time were put towards the Task Force and Action Plan, the process presented good value for the amount of investment.  Considering that all working group work, research, plan drafting and finalisation happened within the one year allotment, the task force model was an efficient exercise that leveraged a great deal of time and energy from staff and community partners without requiring significant budgeting reallocations.  However, one drawback to this approach was that working group members could not be a greater part in exploring how of the limited time and resources afforded.  Nevertheless, the dialogue pointed to directions and actions that would form the basis for the types of long-range strategic planning needed to compel a broader shift in mandate and organisational culture.Working group members were generally satisfied with the focused nature and achievable aims of the work they were asked to complete.  However, no next steps for continued engagement with staff and community partners were identified at the conclusion of the Task Force.  Progress updates on plan implementation, either through e-mail newsletters or semi-annual meetings, might help to nurture some of the relationships and cultivate a sense of camaraderie that were developed at the working group meetings.Results and Discussion 39and the University of British Columbia, two graduate students greatly enhanced the capacity of the Task Force by providing more nuanced understanding of barriers through their research.  The inventorying and asset mapping process also provided baselines for food work that would help the Park Board chart its progress towards meeting the goals and targets set out in the Action Plan.The research efforts enhanced the ability of the planner to articulate the issues and pursue opportunities to find the appropriate supports to expand food initiatives.  For instance, initial research conducted at the beginning of the planning process identified the scale of underutilisation in community centre kitchens, largely due to obstructive policies and inadequate kitchen infrastructure to meet food safety regulations.  Later interviews conducted with centre staff by a second graduate student highlighted a number of policy, resourcing, and infrastructural issues that hindered the ability of staff to build and sustain food programming within centres.  The information was also valuable by pointing out potential partnerships with organisations and agencies that would enhance the capacity to carry out food programming within Park Board facilities.Research efforts were less useful in identifying community needs and opportunities to connect different assets.  The scope of such research would have required much finer grained analysis not only with staff, but a broader range of community partners to identify specific needs that Park Board assets would be best suited to meet.  This undertaking would require some considerable resources and collaboration between agencies, as well as an extended timeframe.  Even so, the research pointed out gaps in information that could be subjects of future research. implementation mechanisms for the various actions might occur.  Considering that many of the staff involved would also be the ones implementing resulting actions, additional resources could have taken advantage of the momentum generated and leveraged some greater buy-in from the group, and help staff and the broader group identify ways they could proceed on actions in their existing capacities.Enhancing Research SupportDespite the constraints on staff resources, the planning lead found multiple opportunities to enhance inventorying and qualitative research on existing Park Board assets by taking advantage of funding opportunities to employ graduate students.  Connecting with Greenest City Scholar initiative, a partnership between the City Strathcona Community Garden6  |  CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATIONSConclusions  and Recommendations 416.1  CONCLUSIONSThe adoption of the Local Food Action Plan by the Park Board represents a milestone in Vancouver?s food policy history and a key accomplishment in several respects.  Firstly, it enhances the municipality?s ability to coordinate and strategise with a comprehensive citywide scope to food systems planning.  It allows Park Board assets to be considered when drafting multi-agency responses, making use of the localised staff, infrastructure, and networks that have made the Park Board important community actors in the past and present.  As the Park Board implements the proposed plans, it will demonstrate its commitment to support neighbourhood and citywide food systems as envisioned in its Strategic Management Plan. Secondly, the Task Force offers a model for future consultation processes on strategic initiatives, marking a significant shift in how Park Board might conduct planning on strategic objectives in ways that enlist greater staff and community engagement.  Task Force members and working group participants were, in large part, able to articulate the major barriers that had stifled food efforts, and identified avenues for action that leveraged resources in sensible and pragmatic ways, while keeping an overarching vision in mind.  Ultimately, food system planners will rely on some of the forged relationships and goodwill generated in the Task Force process to sustain coordination of staff across departments and agencies.There are key lessons that can be derived for planners and agencies in other jurisdictions involved in food systems planning.  Task Force members created a framework for engaging decision-makers, staff and community partners that brought together a diverse set of knowledge, skills, and perspectives to inform appropriate courses of action.  To generate the conditions required to begin the strategic planning process, it was necessary to build a constituency of supporters, clarify expectations, translate broad citywide goals into implementable policy and actions.  Planners engaged in similar efforts must be proficient in the more technical and research-focused aspects of their profession, while also embracing the political dimension of their work requiring them to be effective brokers, connectors, and communicators.In the coming years, planners and staff will need to take on leadership roles to ensure that progress is made towards creating a more sustainable food system.  Processes and policies will need to be created and adjusted to facilitate more food focused initiatives, and certainly funding and resources will need to be secured to help achieve the goals.  Monitoring and evaluation will also need to be conducted in order to track progress being made, and performed in ways that guarantee feedback from staff and key partners will inform planning decisions.  The following sections outline some recommended next steps for staff charged with implementing the Local Food Action Plan.6.2  EMBED FOOD SYSTEMS WITHIN THE ORGANISATIONTake a Leadership Role in Forming a Mandate for FoodThe Action Plan provides the framework for Park Board involvement in developing food resources, and a road map to achieving some sustained goals.  Many of the actions will require planners to build the political and organisational will required to acquire the staffing and capital resources needed.  This will require a significant shift for the planning and research wing whose work has in the past been more focused on generating assessments and research for Park Board initiatives.  Planners will be required to play more active role in setting the agenda that will allow for deeper engagement on food systems issues.  They already provide relevant information on issues and context for Park Board motions. With regards to food policy, planners can leverage their A SEAT AT THE TABLE42like, how much change are we willing to support?  What behaviours will need to change to accommodate this?  Facilitating this kind of discussion will require planners to find champions within the organisation who are willing to work within their group to help achieve the mutual aims.6.3  DEVELOP A COLLABORATIVE CULTUREDevelop a Culture of Collaboration with Centre StaffThe plan-making process highlighted the need for park planners to engage with community centre staff currently implementing food programs in order to better understand the resource gaps and policy deficiencies that inhibit more food programming.  Existing arrangements did not encourage centres to collaboratively address common issues that were too sizeable for any one centre to resolve.  Without an explicit organisational mandate for food systems work, departmental management was unlikely to rationalise allocating resources to find comprehensive solutions for food systems issues.  As a result, centre staff often worked in isolation.One obvious avenue for immediate action is for planners to convene programmers in supportive community centres to develop a scope of work to identify near-term actions that sustains collaboration between centres.  Planners would be obligated to find initial funds to pay for staff time, which would be used by participants to prioritise capital and operational investments should more funds become available.  They could play a crucial liaison role by bringing third parties to the table ? for instance, Vancouver Coastal Health for issues relating to food safety and community health, and Social Policy which is responsible for several granting streams that could support community food efforts.  The formation of this group would be valuable in empowering staff to prioritise actions and allocate budgets where there is the greatest need, positions to educate commissioners on food systems, articulate the rationale for Park Board involvement with presentations and reports, and identify directions for action.  In the coming years, proponents will need to set a tone signifying a broader shift envisioning bolder changes instead of the incremental adjustments that have seen limited success in embedding food systems thinking within parks and recreation.  Planners must take a leadership role in working with senior management to establish the parameters of the Park Board?s mandate around food that indicates the level of change that is feasible and appropriate in balance with other priorities.  Regular contact, from water cooler conversations to more formal meetings, is essential to build support among those individuals who hold approval authority over budgetary allocations and policy changes.Generate Greater Clarity on Park Board ProcessesOver the years, procedures for the development of food assets such as community gardens have largely been put together haphazardly to deal with emerging needs, without uniform procedures or identified staff responsible.  Park Board planners can interject by providing much-needed clarity through articulating clear staff responsibilities, developing measures to close gaps, and translating policy goals more clearly into feasible processes that make sense from an organisational point of view.  Working with implementing staff could yield possibilities for streamlined procedures and establish the scope and constraints for effective management of food activities.  Part of planners? work is to shift from relationships to formalised procedures in a way that builds a supportive organisational culture with inclusivity and trust among staff.  It is essential to establish mutual understanding of benefits, and to tie processes into existing parks and recreation functions in a way that works for both parties.  It requires staff to come together to answer questions Title of Chapter 43opportunities to make funds more accessible and secure for long-term and ongoing projects.  6.4  MAINTAIN MOMENTUM AND CREATE LEVERAGE POTENTIALSBalance Project Based Work with Comprehensive ChangePlanners must be able to keep an eye on the systemic reforms that are needed to comprehensive embed food systems within the Park Board while recognising the role of more modest opportunities for incremental changes that work towards policy goals.  Smaller projects executed frequently and successfully can help to normalise supportive processes and attitudes in the food systems work within the different Park Board contexts.  Different implementing departments must be able to work with coordinating planners to collaborate on projects that require parties to define near-term objectives, commit to implementing processes, and determine project evaluation.  Ultimately, having more staff and processes in place to mobilise food programs, urban agriculture, while also having the benefit of amplifying the power of centre staff to advocate for more funding from senior management. Collaborate on Prioritisation and ResourcingPlanners can find opportunities to prioritise food systems in existing policy processes, especially in in the design of new and renovated facilities and parks.  Where there are opportunities hire staff, planners can advocate and scope food-related responsibilities into job descriptions, as well as support training for existing staff to support work on initiatives.  Thus far, initiators of food programs and initiatives have needed to be opportunistic in seeking funding for food initiatives because very little is allocated for food-specific community-based work in the Park Board budget.  Planners can work with parks and community centre staff to better advocate for needed funding and direct it to the opportunities that have been identified.  In the longer term, planners can work with other agencies with resources to coordinate on funding projects that meet mutual aims.  One option is to work with the City, VCH, VSB, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, and other relevant charity organisations to establish a funding collaborative that streamlines funding A SEAT AT THE TABLE44and understand with more specific detail the roles that the Park Board could play.  Neighbourhoods have unique sets of assets and resources at their disposal ? relationships that could be further leveraged to support food efforts across the city.  To understand local barriers and develop more effective and comprehensive food programming, community centre and parks staff could work together to support collaboration and research.Support Advocacy for Food Systems WorkA substantive shift towards more local and sustainable food systems requires multi-agency involvement from different sectors and levels of government, and the Park Board can demonstrate its commitment by working with partner organisations to advocate for coordinated policy and resourcing on matters that affect local food systems.  The Park Board has connections within neighbourhoods that can be leveraged to support food initiatives, and bring its own resources to the table to open up more opportunities for collaboration that enhances community agency.  Some potential avenues for advocacy involve connecting with agencies working on public health, housing and education, which might include embedding Park Board staff in steering committees of community organisations where appropriate where many of these agencies already sit.  More specifically, regular presence of board staff at the VFPC would facilitate greater communication on Action Plan projects and find opportunities for mutual benefit.  Greater engagement with the food systems community would help build a constituency that offers external support for prioritising investment for expanding the Park Board?s role in food systems planning.  and food scrap composting operations can go a long way to support more extensive transformations in policy and resource arrangements.Create Avenues for Greater Staff and Partner Dialogue and Involvement As the Board moves ahead in the implementation of the Action Plan, food systems planners will need to develop processes that make Park Board assets available to support food-focused activities.  Part of this is to work towards addressing existing policies that limit food-based activities.  Articulating these opportunities in ways that make sense within the parks and recreation mandate, and defining the relationships between community groups wishing to utilise park land or facilities and those operations staff whose work would be affected.  Working group discussions demonstrated that several key departments were already acting on food systems initiatives autonomously and there was significant interest from staff members to do more but was limited by logistical and resourcing challenges.  Those who were involved largely saw the value of dialogue since there were few avenues for group problem-solving between the different departments.  Implementing staff should seize the momentum generated from the planning process and ensure that those conversations are able to address some of the more complex questions and make use of the relationships that were engaged, and bring other relevant persons onboard.  On the one hand, the organisation needs to better articulate broader policy aims to implementing actions; on the other, hearing the concerns and identifying ways to address potential resourcing and mandate issues to ensure that responses are grounded and collaborative. Working group sessions identified a need to address numerous neighbourhood-specific and citywide challenges.  More work needs to be done to build on the asset mapping exercise taken during the planning process, Conclusions  and Recommendations 45? Food systems have not been explicitly explored in academic literature around parks and recreation ? for instance in recreation and leisure studies or park development.  Research addressing this gap would strengthen the theoretical basis for greater involvement in food systems by parks and recreation proponents.? A qualitative study on the changes of planners? roles with the addition, adaption, and inclusion of a food mandate.  A comparison of narratives that identify points of resistance, unexpected successes, and unforeseen developments would be valuable for practitioners seeking to embed other peripheral topics in planning and policy.6.5  SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH? 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