Greater Sudbury Food Policy Council

A vision for good food for all!


Greater Sudbury Food Policy Council (GSFPC) Food System Infographic

This infographic aims to demonstrate some of the key elements of our food system in Greater Sudbury.

This fact sheet provides some ideas about who we are and the role we can play in ‘growing a sustainable food culture’.

Greater Sudbury Food Policy Council (GSFPC) Terms of Reference

1. Background

In 2004, the City of Greater Sudbury and the Sudbury & District Health Unit (SDHU) endorsed the City of Greater Sudbury Food Charter.  The Food Charter outlines how Sudbury will work towards community food security through research, policies and programs that endorse 1) Population Health and Wellness; 2) Community Development; 3) Investment in the Regional Food system; and 4) The Development of a Sustainable Food System.

Since 2004, community initiatives have supported the mandate of the Food Charter for example the Eat Local Sudbury Co-operative, the Agricultural Reserve, the development of community gardens, the Sudbury & District Good Food Box program, the Foodshed Project’s Grow a Row program, the annual Seedy Sunday event, among others. However, there are still many significant needs and opportunities related to creating a vibrant, healthy and sustainable food system across the City of Greater Sudbury that demand more coordinated action. To this end, local stakeholders initiated a process of developing a Greater Sudbury Food Policy Council.

2. Vision for Greater Sudbury:

The Greater Sudbury Food Policy Council (GSFPC) envisions a Greater Sudbury, as outlined by the Food Charter, where:

  •  all residents have access to adequate, affordable, safe, nutritious and culturally acceptable food;
  • there exists a financially viable, equitable, environmentally sustainable food system (including production, processing, distribution, marketing and waste disposal); and
  • area citizens are knowledgeable about the food system and its impact on their individual lives and community.

3. Mission (our role in achieving the vision)

The Greater Sudbury Food Policy Council (GSFPC) will:

  • support the development of this equitable, vibrant and sustainable food system for the City of Greater Sudbury through research, advocacy and the dissemination of knowledge of food issues
  • foster collaboration and communication amongst other food system stakeholders including business, community organizations, individuals and government

4. Mandate (how we will fulfill our role):

The Greater Sudbury Food Policy Council (GSFPC) will fulfill our role in achieving this vision through four methods:

  1.  Networking – serving as a forum for stakeholders to discuss food issues
  2. Coordination – fostering strategic planning, collaboration, coordination, and communication among stakeholders across the food system
  3. Policy – evaluating, influencing and recommending food-related policy to government and other stakeholders
  4. Programs –encouraging programs and services without duplicating the role or work of existing stakeholders.
  5. Liaising – with other stakeholders in the regional food system and beyond


5. Definitions:

Regional Food System: The geographic area including and beyond the City of Greater Sudbury that encompasses nearby agricultural lands and communities from which the citizens of Greater Sudbury derive a significant portion of their food, now or potentially in the future.

Consensus Decision: A group decision making process that seeks an acceptable resolution, one that can be supported, even if not the “favorite” of each individual.

6. Membership

a) Number and Role:

There will be a maximum of fifteen (15) and a minimum of seven (7) representatives on the GSFPC as listed in the representation identified below.

Members will be selected based on the strength of their personal qualifications and will not act as representatives of a specific sponsoring organization. They will represent the rich diversity of Greater Sudbury.

Individual members may however have particular professional networks or non-confidential information that can be brought to the GSFPC for the benefit of its mission and work.

Government employees may also apply to become full voting members of the GSFPC as per the usual process.

b) Representation:

Membership will aim to include members with a range of knowledge and experience in as many of the following components of the regional food system as possible:

  • Production – Rural – Commodity
  • Production – Rural – Direct marketing
  • Production – Urban
  • Processing
  • Distribution (includes retail)
  • Consumption (may include private or public food service or chefs)
  • Waste Management
  • Access (includes social service agencies)
  • Health and/or Nutrition
  • Food Preparation or Preservation Skills (Food Literacy)
  • Wild plants, harvesting, hunting and fishing
  • Environment and Sustainability
  • Two representatives: System-wide analysis (including natural or social science research, media, economic/community development, law, public education, or land use planning)

c) Membership qualifications:

  • The GSFPC membership will normally be limited to residents of Greater Sudbury, or in some cases of nearby communities within the regional food system. See definition.
  • Their professional or community work reflects the vision and mission of the GSFPC.
  • They bring skills and experience in at least one of the food system components listed in item 5 b) above and
  • They can help the GSFPC to have dialogue and partnerships with at least one distinct population or sector group in the City of Greater Sudbury or regional food system.
  • They respect the complexity and sensitivity of the GSFPC’s work with diverse partners, and appreciate the need for personal and group skills in problem-solving and “getting to yes”.
  • They are able to attend monthly meetings of the GSFPC on a regular basis, and can participate in working group meetings as required.

d) Selection of Members

New members will be recommended by the Membership Working Group and approved through unanimous decision of the continuing GSFPC members.

7. Governance

a) Co-Chairs

GSFPC members will elect co-chairs at a meeting of the GSFPC through a nomination and (if necessary) balloting process.  The co-chairs will be elected on an annual basis. Co-chairs are responsible for organizing and leading the meetings, and at least one will sit on the Membership Working Group. The co-chairs may also call meetings in between regular GSFPC council meetings, to bring together key members and resource people to plan for upcoming council meetings and guide the work of the council. If necessary one co-chair may be a Resource member (see 9 below).

b) Membership Terms

New members will be appointed yearly for a term of two years, though consideration will be given to those only available for a 1 year term. Terms on the GSFPC will be renewable up to a maximum of six years. Term renewals will be reviewed and approved by consensus.  If consensus is not achieved a decision will be based on approval of at least 75% of the GSFPC members (or ten members of a full fifteen member council).

c) Decision Making

Only GSFPC members will have voting privileges. Co-Chairs are active members of the GSFPC and so can vote.  Unless the position is being filled by a Resource member, in which case, the one co-chair will not have a vote.

Decisions will be made by motions.  All efforts will be made to come to a consensus.  If consensus is not achieved a decision will be based on approval of at least 75% of the GSFPC members. The Council will refer to the Decision-Making Process outlined in Appendix A for guidance.

Council members not  able to attend a particular meeting may vote by email or other form of written communication to the co-chairs within seven days before or after the council meeting at which the vote in question took place.

If issues of an urgent nature arise in between council meetings, a co-chair may call for a vote by email (either on their own initiative or at the request of one of the members). The co-chair must provide members a minimum of five days to submit their vote, as well as the information required to make a decision and the rationale for why a vote is required in between meetings. As above, at least 75% of the members must approve the motion for it to be considered passed.

d) Resignation from the Council

Missing three council meetings a year without prior discussion with a Co-Chair is deemed equivalent to a resignation.

Written resignation can be sent by mail or email to the Co-Chairs at any time.

Council members are expected to actively participate.  If a member sends regrets for a number of meetings (more than 6 in a row without explanation) and is not participating in the activities of the Council this is deemed equivalent to resignation.

e) Working / Task Groups

The GSFPC will operate with working groups. Working Groups will be standing or ongoing groups organized around a sector of the food system for more focused work and coordination related to that sector. Task groups will be ad-hoc, cross-sectoral, short-term, and established in conjunction with the GSFPC’s work plan and identified priorities. Appointment of GSFPC members to working groups is accomplished by majority vote of the GSFPC.

The GSFPC will establish a Membership Working Group at its first meeting. The role of the membership working group is to track membership, and seek and nominate appointments and replacements.

GSFPC members will be expected to participate in at least one working group as required. Working Groups will be composed of GSFPC members as well as other individuals with outside expertise. Invitation and selection of non-GSFPC working group members will be at the discretion of GSFPC working group members. At no time shall non-GSFPC members comprise more than 50% of the membership of any working group.

Missing three working group meetings a year without prior discussion with the working group leader is deemed equivalent to a resignation from the Work Group.

8. Meetings

a) Administration

The minute taking role will be rotated among members in the absence of support staff.

b) Schedule

The GSFPC will meet monthly during the first year, with the possible exceptions of December and August. A standing meeting time will be established at the first GSFPC meeting.

The frequency of working group meetings will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

The public is invited to observe all GSFPC meetings, except where confidential matters will be discussed. Non-members of the GSFPC can request to be placed on the agenda in advance by contacting one of the co-chairs.

c) Quorum

The attendance of at least fifty percent plus one of the current number of council members is required to hold an official meeting of the GSFPC.

9. Resources/Staffing

The City of Greater Sudbury, the Sudbury & District Health Unit, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food/ Ministry of Rural Affairs, or other relevant government departments or agencies may assign staff on a temporary or ongoing basis to support the work of the GSFPC. On a case-by-case basis, they may also assign staff to work on specific GSFPC projects or activities for a period of time. These staff support personnel are additional non-voting members of GSFPC, not accounted for in the maximum thirteen-member makeup of the GSFPC.

A Municipal Councillor may act as a resource or be a voting member.

10. Review and Amendments to this Terms of Reference

This Terms of Reference shall be reviewed on an annual basis for relevance and accuracy. Proposed future amendments to the Terms of Reference shall be circulated at least 14 days prior to a GSFPC meeting at which the amendments may be adopted by unanimous consent of the GSFPC members (either present, attending by phone, or voting by email or mail proxy).


Appendix A

Guidance for Decision Making

Step 1:  Acknowledge divergence

Acknowledging differences comes first when building consensus. Then people can bring forward solutions and the group should consider each one at a time. In consensus decision-making, the individual is responsible for expressing their concern, and the group is responsible for resolving the concern (if deemed aligned with GSFPC’s Vision and Mission). A principle of consensus decision-making is that differences will strengthen the proposal on the table. It is important that all group members take this to heart.

Step 2: Determine who is responsible

Considering one proposal at a time, we must ask:

  1. Is the concern within the GSFPC’s Vision and Mission?
  2. Have we involved the necessary decision-makers or is this an issue for another group (or do other individuals need to be consulted)?

Step 3: Attempt to Reach Consensus

Since consensus decision-making must embrace differing ideas and perspectives, knowing how to deal with lack of consensus is vital. Three major questions should be asked:

  1. Which concerns can be resolved?
  2. Which need more attention?
  3. Which are blocking consensus?

Differences should be dealt with immediately if it is blocking further decisions. Consider one proposal at a time.

Overall, the objective of consensus decision-making is to implement proposals on which everyone agrees and everyone is included in the decision-making process. Typically, this consensus process works well with a maximum of 15 to 20 people. Participation is a critical component of consensus decision-making since all ideas and concerns should be considered to create better solutions. The goal of consensus decision making is to grow community and trust within the group.

Discussion and expression of the ideas for improvement is likely to address the concern.  A minor concern in the consensus model can take three forms.

  1. Standing aside happens when an individual that does not support the proposal but doesn’t want to stop others from implementing it.
  2. A reservation in the consensus model is when an individual is not completely satisfied but is generally supportive, and would allow the idea to be implemented.
  3. Non-support is when an individual doesn’t feel the proposal is needed, but they are willing to go along with it.

With each of these minor concerns, it is crucial that they are openly expressed in the group to help to improve the final consensus that is reached.

Step 4: Consider the Approaches of Collaboration, Compromise and Capacity Building in working towards consensus

Collaboration can be used so that multiple objectives can be met, and a win-win resolution is established when consensus isn’t reached on a proposal. A collaborative effort is when everyone’s needs are met and nothing is taken away from the proposal. When decisions cannot be made because there is an idea that an individual does not agree with, this may result in a compromise.

Compromise is defined as a strategy to achieve a decision whereby each party makes mutual concessions. Everyone may not get what they want, but they have a little less of what they don’t want.

Other decision making strategies may include capacity building. Capacity building means to support skill and knowledge development, to raise awareness and increase members’ abilities to take appropriate action and make well-informed decisions. When a conflict is less pressing, further action can be delayed if the person(s) blocking consensus agrees that capacity building is a viable solution to the differences at hand.

Step 5: Deal with Consensus Blocks

Once a concern has been identified, a major concern (also called a veto or block) may end up blocking consensus, which means the individual aims to stop the group from undertaking the proposal at hand. When there is an outright rejection of the proposal, action, or decision on the table, the major concern must be aligned with the Vision and Mission of the GSFPC and thus legitimated by the whole group. If the group decides that the concern is not aligned with the GSFPCs Vision and Mission, the conflict can be dropped. However, if the individual with the major concern wishes to exit the group due to the proposal, the group must carefully weigh this action.

When dealing with differences, this model allows members interested in shifting their energy to do so, by either leaving the Council or being a catalyst for a new initiative that takes on a new purpose. (However, too much crossover between initiatives may cause resources to be stretched too thin, so it is likely that nuanced differences should be addressed since maintaining one stronger group instead of two weaker ones is preferable.)

Step 6: Majority voting

When a decision is blocked, the consensus process may be set aside and the group may choose to employ majority voting. In this context a majority of 75% or more of those voting must support the proposal.  In addition, attempts to collaborate, compromise and build capacity must be wholeheartedly undertaken before majority voting is undertaken. This could be a vote for or against the proposal on the table, or for or against the original proposal being changed. Majority voting will only be used when there is a block on the proposal.


Communications Ideas

It is a good idea to get a consensus on the best communication tool for your group, and under what circumstances to use the preferred method. For example, email communication can be delayed and thus more time consuming, so teleconferencing may be preferred for making quick decisions. Conversely, email is good for including all members in the process and to communicate on a variety of schedules.

Finally, it can be helpful to revisit and evaluate the effectiveness of the decision and the decision-making process after decisions have been adapted. The group can reflect and note what worked and what didn’t to aid in future decision-making processes.

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