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Food and Water Are Basic Human Rights and Kingston Bylaws Need to Change

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Food and water are basic human rights[1]. The resurgence of gardens for food production in Kingston and across North America has been a key aspect of people and communities asserting greater control over the food they eat by growing it themselves. In areas in and around Kingston’s food desert[2][3] where there are no grocery stores and access to fresh healthy food options is limited, growing food is especially important.

The problem is that Kingston’s By-Laws on water usage do not recognize food and water as human rights. One example of this (there are many) is how the city regulates residential water use when it comes to watering community and residential food gardens. The current By-Law (Utilities By-Law 2006-122[4]) limits external use (i.e. outside the house or business) of water according to even/odd calendar days and based on whether you use a sprinkler or a hose. The problem with this By-Law is that it does not discriminate based on how water is being used – to fill pools, wash cars, water lawns, water flower gardens, or produce food. And, all the “work-arounds” provided to in the By-Laws by means of exemptions are costly and exclude the poor.

An exemption to Kingston Utilities By-Law 2006-122 for residential and community food garden irrigation is one small way that the city can help and encourage local food production and greater food security in areas where few food fresh food options are available. We the undersigned request City Council review this By-Law and amend it to exclude external water usage for residential and community food garden irrigation.




[3] Bedore, Melanie. 2010. Just urban food systems: A new direction for food access and urban social justice. Geography Compass 4 (9):1418-1432.


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