A Framework for Site Assessment Guides for Urban Impacted Soils: A Vancouver Case Study
Keywords:Urban Soil, Brownfields, Community Gardens, Urban Agriculture, Site Assessment, Soil Quality
AbstractUrban agricultural activities, such as community gardening and urban farming, are becoming popular in many North American cities, including Vancouver, British Columbia (BC). Currently, demand for urban agricultural land in Vancouver is mainly met by reclaiming brownfields (vacant and often neglected tracts of land) and land owned or managed by schools, religious institutions, hospitals, and private residents, into gardens and urban farms. Before urban sites can be reclaimed, they need to be assessed for suitability for food production; however, many cities, including Vancouver, do not have locally adapted site assessment guides (SAGs). This paper describes the development of a framework for a SAG for Vancouver soils. The framework consists of the following five phases: (1) initial selection of properties and assessment approaches; (2) stakeholder feedback and subsequent revision of the properties identified in Phase 1; (3) additional feedback, revision, and finalization of the SAG; (4) distribution of the guides; and (5) ongoing updates and support. As part of framework development, we identified relevant site characteristics (e.g., soil properties, aspect, slope, amount of sunshine) for Vancouver and developed a Vancouver soil map. Distribution and promotion of the SAG through local organizations and societies started in 2010, and ongoing efforts regarding these initiatives are underway. The SAG framework used in Vancouver may be useful to other cities that wish to empower their citizens to create spaces for urban agriculture safely and successfully.
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