A recent study tour in Ottawa on food production sparked an idea for Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek.
During the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) annual conference and trade show June 1-4 in Ottawa, Westbroek said he went on a study tour on food production that can support the food and farm business.
Westbroek said a not-for-profit organization created a business where people who wanted to sell on the market would have to pay, but they could use a commercial kitchen to produce the food which they would then freeze, vacuum pack or put into cans. However, people could use the kitchen at no cost if the food was going to the food banks or charities.
“Like our farmers’ market produces a lot of good healthy stuff, and in some cases it’s difficult for them to process food. You have to have a commercial kitchen, it has to be certified, it has to have health inspections and so on,” Westbroek said.
Westbroek said something like this could maybe be applicable to the Qualicum Beach Farmer’s Market, adding that he has a location in mind for the commercial kitchen but he doesn’t want to “spill the beans” until he has spoken with them .
“We (could) have a commercial kitchen where you could rent the space for a day or how many hours — or days — you need and process your food without having to ship it to Vancouver or some place else,” he said.
It wouldn’t be a town iniative though, Westbroek said.
“I’ll try and facilitate it and use the information I have (from the FCM), but this would be a partnership between the farmers’ market and the owners of this facility,” he said.
Along with Westbroek, councillors Barry Avis and Bill Luchtmeijer also attended the FCM.
Westbroek had said previously that only the mayor would attend the event on behalf of the town, but he said it became too much and bringing along two councillors shows the town’s commitment to the FCM.
Westbroek said the FCM is a lot like voting.
“If nobody showed up, why would the government listen?” Westbroek said. “But having almost every community in the country represented and speaking on these resolutions as one voice, it’s pretty hard to ignore.
“That’s why the Prime Minister shows up, that’s why all the leaders of parties show up, that why the senior ministers show up. That’s where you have panel discussions with experts in the industry as to how you can advance your projects.
“If you’re not there, why would they come?”
But Westbroek said municipalities can’t always attend FCM expecting to get something in return.
“You can’t just always go with saying we want more,” said Westbroek. “We want to report back and say, ‘The money you gave us, this is what we did, and thank you for being supportive.’”
According to the FCM’s website, almost 3,500 people from across the country participated in the event this year. The FCM is a national voice of municipal government representing 90 per cent of Canada’s population.