MRO Magazine

Community food cupboards coming to Tay this summer

June 2, 2023 | By Derek Howard

Food security is a crisis facing many these days, and one Tay Township initiative is ready to unlock the doors through community sharing cupboards.

Three cupboard-sized outdoor locations in Victoria Harbour, Port McNicoll and Waubaushene passed council approval recently with the intent to be ready for food sharing in the next few months.

Originally proposed in a January corporate services deputation to Tay by Victoria Harbour resident Kristen Drury, a community fridge based on ones like the Troy Scott Community Fridges in Cookstown was pitched as a means to combat food insecurity.

However, concerns of liability, placement, maintenance, monitoring, cost, and adherence to health regulations prompted some reconsideration of the proposal, with Drury connecting with Mary Warnock, president of Victoria Harbour’s St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank.


Warnock told MidlandToday a Tay-tailored proposal might be more palatable to council’s concerns.

“I thought perhaps we could work together on a project that was on a smaller scale,” she said, “community sharing cupboards that could be located in three of our villages: Victoria Harbour, Port McNicoll and Waubaushene.

“The next obstacle was finding a property that would allow us to put them there. We reached out to the three local Legions with our drafted proposal and, happily, all three were initially very interested.”

Not long after, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 316, Beaverbrook, in Waubaushene held reservations regarding vandalism when Branch 523, Sunset, in Victoria Harbour and Branch 545, Bayport, in Port McNicoll were realized as having better security, and they soon declined to participate.

The pair looked to the community garden located in Veteran’s Memorial Park at 133 Pine St. in Waubaushene and, according to Warnock, an agreement was reached with that project’s organizers, Peter and Sharon Langfield, who stated if a community sharing cupboard were installed, they would be willing to provide security as they lived adjacent to the property.

With the check marks seemingly checked, Drury and Warnock met with Tay CAO Andrea Fay and Mayor Ted Walker to discuss the project, with a request to have the township approve the cupboard placement in the Waubaushene park as well as to dig the required holes at the three locations.

Walker updated members of council recently and, with many concerns alleviated, only the liability issue remained. Coun. Gerard LaChapelle spoke in defence of the proposal.

“I think we have all kinds of individuals that do things with this (park) and we don’t check for the liability aspect of it,” he said. “I don’t know what’s different in this one.”

Walker added if there were an issue regarding insurance, he would have Warnock bring the matter back to the municipality. With that, council approved the request.

Warnock noted two donations had already been given: The cost of materials and maintenance would be covered by CSC Chigamik and the Victoria Harbour Lions Club.

“We are hoping to have this in place this summer,” she said. “It will be a way of people sharing what they have and taking what they need. No questions asked, no judgment, just people helping one another during these difficult economic times.”

She added the community fridge prospect hadn’t been given up on, either.

Tay council meets for committee of the whole meetings every second Wednesday of the month, and regular council meetings every fourth Wednesday of the month. Archives and livestreams of council meetings are available through the Tay Township YouTube channel.

By Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MIDLANDTODAY.CA


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