October 20, 2015 1:54 pm

Edmonton city council gives green thumbs up to more urban agriculture

Cathryn Sprague and her business partner, Ryan Mason, operate at 15 urban sites, mainly in the Whyte Avenue area.

Vinesh Pratap, Global News

EDMONTON  — Gardeners rejoice! The City of Edmonton has made changes allowing more urban agriculture and local food production within city limits.

City Council approved changes to establish three new land use classifications within the City’s Zoning Bylaw:  urban outdoor farms, urban indoor farms, and urban gardens.

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The new classes will create a place for urban agriculture and distinguish it from related activities like conventional farming, greenhouses, nurseries and garden centres. The changes go into effect in February 2016.

READ MORE: Urban farming a growing trend in Edmonton

The city said removing barriers will help make Edmonton a more environmentally sustainable and resilient city.

“The changes mean residents can expect to see beautification of vacant and underutilized lots, more community gardens, and an increase in local food businesses in commercial areas and temporary spaces,” said Colton Kirsop, senior planner for the City’s Zoning Bylaw Implementation Team.

READ MORE: Morinville Students get their hands dirty in new urban agriculture class

The City has launched a vacant lot inventory for urban agriculture to help residents and small businesses make use of underutilized land. The online tool allows people to search for lots that are appropriate for urban agriculture.

READ MORE: Urban farming: not just growing food but communities

The changes bring the city’s development rules more in line with food production policies in The Way We Grow and fresh: Edmonton’s Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy.

The new regulations are also meant to ensure the appropriate design, maintenance and operation standards are in place, and that urban agriculture activities are compatible with the surrounding community and aren’t a nuisance to neighbours.

Last spring the city changed its laws to allow beekeeping. A report on urban hens will go to Council later this winter.

WATCH: Many Edmontonians are creating a buzz in their own backyards thanks to city approval in April. Lisa Wolansky takes a look.

For more information on the changes, visit the City of Edmonton’s website.

WATCH: Series of features on urban farming

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