FOULDS: More food for thought wasted

As a civic politician, Donovan Cavers was polarizing.

There were those who supported his environment-first platform and those who felt he leaned a bit too far in that direction.

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Cavers was one of those politicians who would definitely get one’s vote or for damn sure wouldn’t get one’s vote.

There really wasn’t room for any position in between those two solitudes.

Through his time on council, there were comments, tweets and questionable actions that placed him in the bull’s-eye of many critics.

Maybe his decision to run for both a council and school trustee seat in last fall’s civic election was the one step too many for voters.

In any event, Cavers failed in his bid for a third term on council, but in a move that couldn’t have been surprising to anybody, the aspiring teacher decided to leave a year-long legacy by using his final council meeting to file 11 notices of motion — one to be introduced in each subsequent month.

Regardless of whether the ideas are worthy of consideration (some are, some are not), it appears the nine people elected to city hall in October consider Cavers’ so-called ghost motions unnecessary grandstanding.

They have summarily extinguished each and every proposal with about as much discussion as can be found at a mime conference.

Cavers’ notices of motion include designated zoning for election signage, 365-day transit and eliminating words like “customers,” “clients” and “corporate mission” in favour of “residents,” “citizens” and “public service mission” in internal city language.

In January, Cavers noted his notices of motion were not getting any traction at council and argued, rightly, that each one should be evaluated based on merit and not dismissed automatically.

In other words, focus on the words in the proposal, not on the name behind it.

The motion that was killed this week was perhaps the best of the bunch, a common sense idea that deserved more than a perfunctory dunk in the ideas trash bin.

Cavers’ idea, based on food security and education, was to have council mandate that five per cent of landscape planting beds be edible ornamentals, such as fruit trees, berry bushes, herbs or gourds.

Council as a whole declined to even discuss the idea and it died, which is a shame.

As Cavers told KTW before the notice of motion went before council: “Plants provide food. You have a lot of people that could use nutrition. If it’s done well and there’s proper signage so people know when stuff is ripe to take and what not, why not do it? There’s a lot of communities all around North America that are experimenting with food forests. Why can’t we?”

Why can’t we, indeed?

Seattle does it with its popular Brandon Street Orchard. Asheville, N.C., does it with its George Washington Carver Edible Park. Boston does it with its Boston Tree Party. Sheridan, Wyo., does it with its Thorne Rider Park.

All of these cities, and more, have decided to use public and private space to grow stuff people can eat for free, rather than grow things that are simply nice to look at on a sunny day.

Pears, zucchini, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, apricots, raspberries, figs — a lot of stuff is being grown that can feed a lot of people.

Kamloops council as a whole likes to proclaim its commitment to sustainability.

What’s more sustainable than adding edible plants and trees to the city landscape?

Having a current councillor introduce a similar notice of motion would be an appetizing endeavour.

Twitter: @ChrisJFoulds

© Kamloops This Week


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