Neighborhood Grocer changes the law? - Le Marché St. George

In response to the recent community outpouring to support this local food hub, I thought I would write the City with a different perspective. I support the community, but the fact is that Le Marché St. George is a Neighborhood Grocer... well, read on. 

 

Dear City of Vancouver,

Moving to Vancouver six months ago, I am now a proud citizen of this vibrant multicultural city. Recently, I chose the city’s food policy to be the topic of my dissertation. The process helped me understand the rich tapestry of cultures, peoples, ecology and histories that make Vancouver a great place to live.  

This letter is to discuss the development of the adaptive and evolving policies in our city. The issue: a neighborhood food hub and community member who sells packaged and prepared food, has been asked to comply with zoning bylaws that do not allow a neighbourhood grocery store to serve food.

The different perspectives
Food policy consists of several invested parties, often with competing interests, hoping to influence the local food system. Here are a few problems, depending on the interests:

a) Shifting times and transition in the use of our spaces in urban communities has presented the city and its citizens with a logistical minefield of zoning and regulatory silos. Currently, the by-laws have not identified anything for multi-use space;

b) The business has been operating in contravention to the city by-laws based on their zoning (outlined below). Past experience in regulatory work allows me to understand the city’s responsibility to enforce regulations and ensure compliance should a complaint arises;

c) This local business is the core of the community and neighborhood. It fosters identity and a sense of belonging to the city amongst its citizens.There has been an overwhelming online outpour for the petition. It is the responsibility of businesses to comply with regulations that pertain.  However, in this case, there are instances where progress can only be achieved through forging paths untaken. In the words of our own Vancouver food strategy, the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Coastal Health recognize the value of building resilient neighborhood food networks. They can be powerful community-based engines that catalyse action. The City of Vancouver has identified this as a priority aligning with the Greenest City Action Plan.

In my opinion, this process must happen to build awareness and push for change to make this city a progressive leader in local food systems and communities.   

The possible outcomes
1) the compromise of all parties to bring the issue to compliance in fairness for all businesses,
2) a conversation about how we can remove barriers to citizen groups and businesses that seek to continually improve the food system and community through innovative approaches.   
In spite of the challenges, Vancouver is fortunate to have proactive  provincial support in public health movements to take the next steps in championing a healthy and sustainable food system.

Thank you for your time and consistent effort to protect the safety and interests of the citizens of this city.
 
A very compelling piece by Scout Magazine  
-By-Laws -
As defined in the by-law:
Grocery or Drug Store, which means the use of premises to retail food or drugs, including food and drugs manufactured on the premises as an integral part of the retail operation but which excludes Neighbourhood Grocery Store or specialty shops such as bakeries, butchers, delicatessens, candy shops, and ice cream parlours which limit sales to a particular type of food;
 
Neighbourhood Grocery Store, which means the use of premises with a maximum of 110 m² of retail and storage floor area for the retailing of groceries and ancillary convenience goods and services in any R District except FM-1;
 
“Restaurant - Class 1”, means the use of premises for the primary purpose of selling and serving prepared food to the public during all hours of operation, where the premises include at least 17 indoor or outdoor seats for customers consuming food purchased on the premises, and where live entertainment, including the use of non-amplified or amplified musical instruments and disc jockey mixing turntables, but excluding patron participation such as karaoke, dancing and open microphone performing, may be available.
 
“Restaurant - Class 2”, means the use of premises for the primary purpose of selling and serving prepared food to the public during all hours of operation, where the premises include at least 17 indoor or outdoor seats for customers consuming food purchased on the premises, and where live entertainment, including the use of non-amplified or amplified musical instruments and disc jockey mixing turntables and patron participation such as karaoke, dancing and open microphone performing may be