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Port Moody council floats urban farm to feed residents if COVID crisis lasts

Mayor Rob Vagramov and his council has proposed transforming city property into an urban farm to help feed residents if COVID crisis gets worse
fire hall
The site of Port Moody's old fire hall could be turned into an urban farm during the current COVID-19 crisis.

Chickens clucking amidst rows of corn growing at the site of Port Moody’s old fire hall? Boulevards bursting with beets and broccoli? Parks planted with parsnips?

Port Moody council wants to investigate turning the city's public land into a farm that could produce food for residents should traditional supply lines get fractured during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a resolution passed at a closed session of council on Tuesday, April 7, and subsequently released, staff is being directed to look into the possibilities and associated costs “for a large-scale food production plot” on city-owned property.

Vagramov said it’s all about food security.

“Considering how much of our food comes from/through the United States — what happens if our southern neighbour struggles with transportation or suffers shortages itself?” he told The Tri-City News.

Vagramov said the old fire hall site at the corner of Ioco Road and Murray Street that has been barren for years would be a possible location for such an initiative because of its southern exposure and central location.

He said the operation would be more than a community garden, equating it to a “significant urban farming project” that could be tended by volunteers practising proper physical distancing protocols.

Vagramov said he doesn’t expect such a farm to feed the city, but “adding a few hundred or couple thousand pounds of fresh produce to our community would go a long way.”

Vagramov said while the initial vision is to grow produce, the scarcity of eggs on supermarket shelves has him thinking chickens could be in the mix as well.

“This used to be a humorous conversation,” he said about the notion of chicken coops in the city's backyards. “This is something that I can see being beneficial.”

Vagramov said at this point the urban farm idea is just that. He’s hopeful staff will be able to fill in the details about how such an operation could work, what it could grow and how it could benefit residents.