Toronto Municipal Staff and Policy-makers' Views on Urban Agriculture and Health
A Qualitative Study
Municipal governments across the Global North are increasingly becoming key actors in shaping urban food and agriculture policy. In the City of Toronto, recent aspirational policies, such as the provincial Local Food Act and the municipal Toronto Agricultural Program, created new opportunities to shape a healthier food system. We sought municipal perspectives on the question of “How might urban agriculture policy and programs be better supported to promote equity and health?” Analysis of findings from semistructured key informant interviews with municipal staff and policy-makers (n=18) illustrated broad support for generating better quantifiable evidence of the impacts of urban agriculture on economic development and employment, health and health equity, land use and production, and partnerships and policies. Place-specific economic and equity data emerged as particularly pressing priorities. At the same time, they sought better approaches to the potential risks involved in urban agriculture. Key informants also shared their views on the use of health impact assessment research to make a case for urban agriculture to a range of stakeholders; to manage real and perceived risks; and to move beyond enabling policies to empower new investments and procedural changes that would facilitate urban agriculture expansion in the city. The results informed the evolving praxis agenda for urban agriculture at the intersections of population health, environmental sustainability, and urban governance.
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