Montreal

Quebec, Montreal launch $750K partnership to make fruits and vegetables more accessible

The City of Montreal and the Quebec government are putting up $750,000 to find ways to make fruits and vegetables more accessible to the public.

Mayor Plante says mobile markets, urban farms could be supported with funding

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says the partnership with the province 'must be thought of in terms of food justice.' (Isaac Olson/CBC)

The City of Montreal and the Quebec government are putting up $750,000 to find ways to make fruits and vegetables more accessible to the public.

The money will mainly finance studies on the economic potential of solidarity markets, which focus on bringing fresh produce to low-income areas, and urban agriculture.

"It will give us the opportunity to do a deeper study about the needs, the possibilities, the opportunities and also come up with how can we financially support the existing initiatives and some of the new initiatives that support this whole sector," said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.

Plante, along with Agriculture Minister André Lamontagne and Minister Responsible for the Montreal Region Chantal Rouleau, announced the joint investment Tuesday morning at the Centrale agricole, an urban agriculture co-operative located in Marché Central.

With a surge of community gardens, green roofs, urban greenhouses and biodiverse landscaping in Montreal, progress is already being made in how city-dwellers can get their produce, Rouleau said.

She said that these initiatives help "fight food deserts, which are much too present in Montreal neighbourhoods."

The mayor says the Great Western Park could be used by local growers who cannot afford to buy large plots of agricultural land. (Radio-Canada)

"This partnership with the province must be thought of in terms of food justice," Plante said. 

"So, how can we ensure that every Montrealer has access to food that is fresh, affordable and within walking distance?"

The mayor did not comment on specific projects that will be studied, but she said that solidarity markets, mobile fruit and vegetable markets, collective kitchens and efforts to include fresh fruits in dépanneurs are initiatives that could get additional support.

She also said the new Great Western Park is a potential site for local producers who do not have the means to buy a large lot outside of Montreal.

"They may say they want to try something on the island and say, 'why not put fruits and vegetables on the REM in the morning?'" Plante said.

More of Quebec's food processing happens in Montreal than anywhere else in the province. The agri-food sector makes up five per cent of the city's gross domestic product and 13 per cent of all jobs on the island.

"How we can support our Montrealers to eat well and eat fresh at a reasonable cost, for me, is at the heart of the reflection," Plante said.

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