Toronto Municipal Staff and Policy-makers' Views on Urban Agriculture and Health

A Qualitative Study




Urban Agriculture, Determinants of Health, Healthy Public Policy, Indicators, Livelihoods, Urban Renewal, Resilience, Municipal Governance, Knowledge Exchange, Canada


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.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Kate Mulligan, Association of Ontario Health Centres

Director, Policy & Communications

Also: Assistant Professor, Social & Behavioural Health Sciences, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Josephine Archbold, City of Toronto

City Clerk’s Office

Lauren E. Baker, University of Toronto

Adjunct Professor, Equity Studies, New College

Also: Research Associate, Ryerson Centre for Studies in Food Security, Ryerson University; and Food Systems Consultant

Sarah Elton, University of Toronto

Ph.D. student, Dalla Lana School of Public Health

Donald C. Cole, University of Toronto

Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health



How to Cite

Mulligan, K., Archbold, J., Baker, L. E., Elton, S., & Cole, D. C. (2018). Toronto Municipal Staff and Policy-makers’ Views on Urban Agriculture and Health: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 8(B), 133–156.