Local food important to islanders, MLA hears

  • Dec. 12, 2008 9:00 a.m.

Islanders are talking about the importance of growing, catching and producing more food locally, says MLA Gary Coons, now back in Prince Rupert after a five-day visit to Haida Gwaii this week. The issue seems to have come to the forefront of many peoples’ concerns in the wake of this summer’s surprising spike in fuel prices, Mr. Coons said. Although fuel prices have fallen since then, concerns remain about how dependent the islands have become on the diesel-fuelled ferry link with the mainland. Islanders’ dependence on grocery stores stocked with goods produced far away is a relatively recent phenomenon. It doesn’t seem right to many people that government regulations now prevent islanders from sharing local butter clams, for example, Mr. Coons said, or from selling locally-slaughtered meat. A new group called Islands’ Food is “right on the money as far as I’m concerned about what we need to do,” he said. “The island has to become self-sustainable as far as food production goes… Costs are going to skyrocket to get that head of lettuce from California.” Mr. Coons said the NDP is working on an agriculture plan for the province which will deal with issues like this and which will be linked to the party’s new forestry plan.