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City Hall food fight - Toronto Sun

June 28, 2011
Don Peat
City Hall Bureau
Toronto Sun

TORONTO - Councillors refused to swallow changes to the city’s local food procurement policy on Tuesday.

Before members of the government management committee failed to approve the changes, Councillor Doug Ford questioned why the city spent $87,000 of a $225,000 provincial grant for a consultant to tell them a 50% local food purchasing target for City-owned facilities was unattainable.

“It’s nonsense,” Ford told reporters after the meeting. “You ask the public, would they spend $87,000 to tell us, and management should know, it is not feasible to have 50% of Ontario food content. We’re all supporters of our farmers and local businesses but it’s not realistic.

“But we had to go out to spend $87,000 to tell us that, then we go out and spend another $125,000, in total $200,000, on something that is a bunch of nonsense, it is a bunch of hogwash for again a consultant to come and tell us this, this is up to management to figure this out,” Ford said.

Committee chairman Councillor Paul Ainslie dismissed the policy as symbolic and argued there are other ways for the city to support local farmers including having more farmers’ markets.

“It’s great to be symbolic but I think there are other opportunities where we can be more than symbolic,” Ainslie said.

Councillor Pam McConnell said those who voted against the policy don’t understand the business sense behind it.

“Here we have Councillor Ford who runs a label company that puts the label on the soup company next door, who uses the local product as being cheaper, and if we don’t have farmers who can grow vegetables for Campbell Soup then it is going to be more costly for Campbell Soup to get stuff from Mexico and California,” she said.

Jamie Kirkpatrick of the Toronto Environmental Alliance lamented the opposition to local food.

“It seems a bit backward to again say we’re wasting money when they got money for this project so it wouldn’t cost taxpayers any money,” Kirkpatrick said.

“The way Councillor Ford was dismissing this, I just don’t think he has a full understanding of what was being proposed,” he said.

City council will dig into the issue next month.

As originally published here:

2011-06-28 City Hall food fight _Toronto SUN_.pdf15.87 KB