Madam Speaker, because local foods are delicious, nutritious, and good for the local economy, and in every way help innoculate us against the impacts of climate change, and employ young people who demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit, it is such a pleasure to stand up to laud some of the successes in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith and the local foods movement.
I think first of Eric Boulton. Mr. Boulton is well into his 80s. He is a long-time farmer from my island, Gabriola Island. He still drives his tractor. He still fights the province on meat slaughtering regulations. He went all the way in fighting the previous Liberal government on that. He and his daughter, Alexa, donate beautiful, locally grown turkeys to the People for a Healthy Community spirit feast at Christmas every year. They are major donors and players in the community. Village Food Market, the local grocery store, especially under the leadership of the McCollum family, always has Alexa and Eric Boulton's beautiful grass-raised beef in the aisles of our market's shelf. It is great to have local foods so easily available.
Nanaimo Foodshare is teaching local people how to buy food in season, how to cook from scratch, how to reduce food waste, and how to compost. Funded by a provincial grant, it has a gleaning program that has saved over 400,000 kilograms of fresh produce in one season alone. That gets local food on the tables of people who need it the most.
Then there is Gabriel's on Commercial St in Nanaimo. Members must try their roast vegetable eggs bennie. It is fantastic. The place has doubled in size. It is a restaurant fully committed to local foods and sustainability. With compostable, takeout containers and all, it really walks its talk.
The Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce celebrated local foods with a massive “feastival”, headlined by chefs and vintners. This year, on June 21, it is carrying on that tradition in its commercial street market, the night market.
COCO Cafe employs persons with disabilities. They cook and cater. This is in Cedar, B.C. It is the centre of the Cedar community. These fantastic young people are learning skills like cooking soups and baking breads and pastries from scratch. They develop these skills then take them home to their own lives. It is creating employment opportunities for people who might not otherwise get them. COCO is a place we are all really proud of.
The Farmship Growers Cooperative grows ethical, healthy, and natural produce for our region, and its co-operative model is creating more opportunities for farmers, protecting farmland, and increasing local food security.
Since 1961, St. Jean's has been doing value-added seafood. It does custom sport fish processing. It has natural hardwood smoked and hand-packed seafood that is distributed across North America. Even better, in 2015, the Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood Limited partnership became the majority owner. St. Jean's is headquartered in Nanaimo. It continues to prosper and grow as one of Canada's leading quality seafood producers. Again, that is right in Nanaimo.
Loaves and Fishes' food bank has a program called Food 4U. It is a food recovery program that is run with the help of 700 volunteers in our community of Nanaimo. In partnership with local grocery stores, it ensures that perishable foods that would otherwise go to landfill are utilized by other food banks, faith organizations, and people in need throughout the community. It rescues what would cost more than $2 million at grocery stores every year. People who might otherwise go to a food bank are getting real quality local food. It is such a point of pride for us. Forty non-profits and schools use its Port of Nanaimo food centre store every week.
If folks at home want any more details on any of those last four groups I highlighted, they can look at my little MP's calendar for 2018, where we have profiled each of these groups. They can call my office in Nanaimo if they did not get one in the mail.
From the Canada summer jobs grant, this year we got over $65,000, or 10% of the Canada summer jobs grant, which in our riding went directly to local food and sustainability groups. That supported 17 summer jobs with some of the businesses and NGOs I have already mentioned as well as the Small Scale Food Processor Association, the Vancouver Island Exhibition, Farmship Growers Cooperative, Generation Farms, and Meal Exchange.
Craig Evans, from the Growing Opportunities Farm Community Co-op, said that it “will help expand our programming on our five acre urban farm and support meaningful skills training and experience for youth with disabilities in our community. It’s opening up opportunities to strengthen food security and urban agriculture in our region.”
There is more local food flavour in our riding, such as Cedar Farmers' Market, Lantzville Farmers' Market, Gabriola, Nanaimo, and Bowen Road.
We drink alcohol locally, too. Mike, from Arbutus Distillery, in Nanaimo, is raising the bar, with 100% B.C.-sourced products from the distillery's own herb garden. Tyler, from White Sails Brewing, Harley, from Longwood Brewery, and Kevin, from Wolf Brewing, are all award-winning brewmasters. They also curate local festivals to highlight the benefits of buying, drinking, and eating locally. It keeps the money and employment in our community as well as all the health benefits that comes with that.
What do all these local success stories have in common? They are all part of the burgeoning local foods movement. The Council of Ontario Universities tells us that 96% of campuses have local food initiatives, 86% have a community or teaching garden, and 77% have a local farmers' market. There is big appetite for this.
Farmers' markets alone are estimated to contribute over $3 billion to local economies annually, and we really need it on Vancouver Island, where 95% of our food right now is imported from off island. Therefore, it is a security issue for us as well.
The Vancouver Island Economic Alliance has recognized this and is promoting local foods in a new and innovative way. It has an “Island Good” tag, and in co-operation with Thrifty Foods, Country Grocer, Quality Foods, and the 49th Parallel stores, in a pilot started this March, they label local foods to make the local products easier to find. I hope I am not scooping VIEA, but I have heard that in just three months, it has created a lift in sales of 17%, and this is a brand new pilot.
Let us do more of these, and let us support the legislation from my colleague, the member for Kootenay—Columbia. His Bill C-281 would designate the Friday before Thanksgiving Day every year a national local food day. This is following in the great tradition of New Democrat MP Malcolm Allen and a long history of New Democrats who have stood up for the environmental, economic, local economy, and youth employment benefits of local foods.
To conclude, I will give special thanks to the farmers of Gabriola who feed me personally, including Watercliff Farm, Stephen Levesque, and Tamaya Beale; Graham, for all his pep talks on the ferry; and Rosheen Holland, for her dignified and big-hearted support of young farmers, me, and other activists in the community. I am grateful to be fed by all of them, and I look forward to celebrating them more.