Candidates weigh in on local food processing

With Covid-19, we have seen the weaknesses of our food chain. If the Taylor Bridge fell down, the north doesn’t even have a couple days worth of eggs.

Peace River North candidates Dan Davies and Trevor Bolin were asked at the Oct. 14 public forum what they and their party would do to increase the amount of local processing of ag products in the Peace region to remedy a potential of food shortages. Here are their responses:

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Trevor Bolin: “Food security has always been an issue, and it’s actually in the community plan for Fort St. John as far as one of the major concerns and that’s why. If we lose one of our direct routes, we would not be able to survive a few days without getting supplies here. That’s how it is.

"We don’t have the mass storage space or the amount of grocery stores and wholesale stores in order to do that. We would be looking at our own local ag, but depending on what time of the year that’s going to happen, that might not be a shoo-in either.

“I would rather not think worst case scenario and the fact we don’t have the ability to ensure families are fed and clothed and carrying on their lives. We need to ensure the right thing is done and we need to ensure that bridge gets replaced.

“We need to stop with the fact that people’s livelihoods are at risk, not only on the bridge, but as you mentioned, we couldn’t purchase toilet paper for what amount of time with COVID-19. Now imagine all of your grocery store shelves look that because we can’t get product in.”

Dan Davies: “The 100-mile diet we’ve talked a lot about, supporting farmers, food security is absolutely critical. We are lucky we do have alternate routes through Cecil Lake and through Hudson’s Hope, but this year at one time all three of those roads were down to single-lane traffic due to washouts. So the reality is there’s a possibility this is a big issue.

“We need to make sure we are supporting our farmers. I met with Les Shurtliff here recently in Taylor, he’s got a project he’s trying to get off the ground in regards to greenhouses and growing fresh produce year-round. It’s those innovative things that people out there are doing that we need to get behind and support.

“To have these massive greenhouses locally, being able to produce produce year-round here in Fort St. John that we can consume locally, is absolutely critical to supporting our local agriculture, as well as making sure we do have some food security. We are big on supporting our farmers whether ranchers or grain farmers, making sure they have the resources they need and the ability to continue farming. 

"We’re really worried where a farmer’s unable to divvy off a piece of their land and give to their son or daughter so they can have their family there and take over the farm. Our present government doesn’t allow for that, and that’s a big worry. We’re not going to have farms if we don’t have farmers.”

Danielle Monroe, candidate for the NDP, did not attend the forum, and has not responded to press inquiries.

General voting day is Oct. 24 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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