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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Examining the barriers and opportunities to local food system planning in the Georgia Basin : of planners, politics and the public Bouris, Kristina Michele Evelyn

Abstract

Given its inter-disciplinary nature and community-oriented perspective, the field of planning is well poised to help create more sustainable, local food systems. Yet the food system has been virtually ignored by the planning profession (Pothukuchi and Kaufman, 2000). Such ignorance is puzzling given the enormous importance of the food system to urban sustainability, a central issue of planning practice. Drawing on the theory of urban political ecology, I propose food system planning as an approach to designing and implementing sustainable urban systems. This thesis identifies the barriers and opportunities that exist to the emerging field of food system planning. Thirteen interviews were conducted with local government planners in the Georgia Basin region of British Columbia. Two central themes emerged from the research: first, political, public and institutional will are major factors in helping and/or hindering food system planning, a finding that supports urban political ecology theorists who contend that sustainable development is as much about governance as it is about ecology, community or economy. Second, food system planning faces a major barrier in that it is perceived as lying outside the roles and responsibilities of planners, a barrier attributed to a dualistic view of planning that sees agriculture as separate from the food system, social planning as separate from land use planning, and the domain of the public sector as separate from the domain of the market. These dualisms must be overcome if urban sustainability strategies, including food system planning, are to be successfully implemented. While the future of food system planning is not without significant challenges, the experiences of participants provided valuable insight into how the food system might be more comprehensively inserted into the local government planning agenda. Strategies are presented for advancing the field of food system planning in British Columbia, including recommendations for practice, policy and further study.

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