January 8, 2018

The Agricultural Land Reserve, Vicki Huntington, and the Future of the Region

Vicki Huntington needs no introduction to the people living in Delta. Ms. Huntington was the former MLA for Delta South and has an outstanding  background of public service.  Among her many accomplishments she has been a band manager for the Gitanmaax First Nation in Hazelton, worked with the RCMP in their security services, and consulted with  ministers of the Crown in Ottawa. She also served five terms as a Councillor in the City of Delta and two terms as the MLA.  She believes strongly in maintaining farmland for future generations and has been recognized for her strong commitment to farming and nature.
Vicki did not run in the last Provincial election for her independent seat~had she run as an independent, she would have been part of the balance of power in the Provincial government coalition. Instead, Delta Councillor Ian Paton of the Liberals won that seat, and currently double dips between sitting on Delta Council (he is paid $62,000 a year plus his expenses) as well as sitting as an MLA where he makes an additional $106,000 plus. Mr. Paton was named newsmaker of the year  by the Delta Optimist, not for double dipping and denying Delta of a more independent voice on Council, but  because he became  a member of the Provincial legislature.  Mr. Paton claims to want the farmer’s best interest but has been unwavering in the support of a multi-billion dollar ten lane bridge which will industrialize the Fraser River, create congestion on either side of the bridge, and purportedly bring more industry to Delta.
What a shame that the Delta Optimist did not recognize Ms Huntington who was the first independent MLA in over sixty years, and the first to be re-elected. However Ms. Huntington has been appointed to the new committee reviewing the Agricultural Land Commission and Agricultural Land Reserve along with eight other members. Their mission is to provide  “strategic advice, policy guidance and recommendations on how to help revitalize the Agricultural Land Reserve and the Agricultural Land Commission to ensure the provincial goals of preserving agricultural land and encouraging farming and ranching continue to be a priority.”
There is no doubt that the Agricultural Land Reserve is essential to the health and food security of British Columbia and must be maintained for future generations. Price Tags Vancouver has already written about the City of Delta carving out ten acres of farmland for a “truck staging area” for port bound trucks, and how the Port of Vancouver has another  81 acres of farmland in Richmond to add to their 1,457 hectares currently in “industrial use”. It’s a huge problem~should the Port be allowed to take the most arable farmland in Canada to use for truck and container parking and portage? How can farmers be compensated and continue farming when they can garner economic windfalls from development through port expansion or pseudo “farm estates” to well-heeled buyers?
This new Agricultural Land Commission review  committee will seek opinions and feedback and hold meetings with  farming and ranching communities. Recommendations could include changes to the way the Agricultural Land Reserve and the Agricultural Land Commission is set up, regulated and administered. This review is badly needed to ensure that agricultural land is reserved for future populations, and to stop speculators buying up farmland for other purposes. The current MLA for Delta South Mr. Paton is already naysaying the committee appointments,  suggesting that maintaining land in agricultural use restrains the rights of farmers to get extra income from their land. But farmers and speculators did buy that agricultural land  ostensibly for agricultural purposes, and for the future of the region, we must ensure that this agricultural land, the very best in Canada, remains for future generations.

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  1. A solid debate on land use is vital for any region. Since much changes, these debates ought to be done every few decades to take into account factors such as:
    – immigration stats & forecasts,
    – weather patterns,
    – transportation needs,
    – new technologies affecting transportation or farming,
    – crop research
    – industrial land needs
    – recreational land needs
    – residential land needs
    – possibilities of creation of new land nearby
    – farming needs
    – land uses beyond the region, for example for export/import requirements

    1. Interesting how you put farming needs almost a the bottom of the list. I would put it at the top. Food is kind of important.
      Kudos to those who have helped to create, maintain and protect the ALR.

    2. Most of these topics have already been discussed, studied, analyzed, deconstructed, reconstructed, poked, prodded, enacted upon and extensively reported. They are now the status quo and the law of the land.
      Move on already.

      1. I’d say ALL these requirements are important for folks that live here. Priorities change with time. As such laws can be changed, you know, and as such a fulsome debate, every so often, has to be had about priorities and associated laws.
        Land for housing is important as is land for transit/transportation, retail, parks, nature, industrial needs, commerce OR food.

        1. I suggest you read some of the huge number of reports already published on these topics.
          Here’s a good place to start for local info:
          The Metro is a public body that is mandated to consult with the public and to hire professionals to design and implement billions in regional infrastructure, and to plan for the future from a politically neutral standpoint and with input from every member city.
          Because you may disagree with some of the results doesn’t mean they will repeat the process over and over until your preferred conclusions are realized.

  2. Post
    1. Lots if you account for future production capacity and the quality of the soil classes. Just because Vancouver’s ALR lands are limited and not used entirely for food production doesn’t mean they should be sold off for country estates.
      Burnaby’s Big Bend contains enough current capacity to offer a significant amount of produce within city limits, and year round for the farms with greenhouses. Hop On Farms, for example, has a loyal local customer base who prefer dealing directly with the conveniently close grower rather than Safeways. There is also a major cranberry farm and some fields of blueberries right next to the warehouses and film studios.
      Every little bit counts in a mountainous province where only 4% of the land is arable.

      1. Sold off for country estates? They already are, or riding schools for the creme de la creme. Better to turn an orphaned part of the ALR that will never be farmed over to much needed multi family housing.

        1. Please provide data for such sweeping conjecture. It’s there if you look.
          In a 2-minute search I found this tidbit: Vancouver has 297 hectares in the ALR and 35 active farms (2010 data — more now). I’ll let you figure out what those farms are, but know that they (i) need actual farm product receipts to maintain their lower tax designation for agriculture, and (ii) permission from the ALC and city to change the zoning, which is a public process.

      2. I bet far more than 4% is useful for agriculture. Look to the Okanagan with its huge vineyards and orchards now where there used to be deserts or dry barren hilsides. Richmond used to be a muddy island, and now it is productive residential, farm and industrial land. You can also stack food containers now and produce food in containers. As technology changes, and as immigration patterns change, even as flood levels or the weather pattern change, the priorities of land use have to change with it.

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