July 20, 2021

Not In My Back Yard: Satellite Imagery Ensuring B.C. Farmland is Farmland Scorned by Provincial Liberals

Aerial photography and satellite imagery is available just about anywhere to everyone.  You can document the changes in a place, a site, or a street’s development by looking at satellite images over time. Google street views has offered the chance to look at images of the same street over time for the past seven years.

Some people have even asked that their street view not be updated, so that they can still view grandparents and others who were captured by the google cameras, but are now deceased.

All well and good, but for some reason the images that are readily available to everyone else are being questioned for use by the Province of British Columbia in establishing that farmlands in the Province’s Agricultural Land Reserve are being used for farmland, instead of quarries or other uses. Despite the fact that this satellite information is readily available to everyone on the planet, the B.C. LIberal agricultural critic Ian Paton (who famously double dipped as an MLA and as a Councillor for the City of Delta) thinks using satellite imagery to ensure farmland is being used as farmland is not a good idea. Seriously.

The Agricultural Land Reserve was set up in the 1970’s as a provincial zone where agriculture is recognized as the priority use, restricting non-agricultural uses. It protects 4.6 million hectares of agriculturally suitable land in the province, including the Class One land which contains the most arable soils in Canada. This designation also means that agricultural land cannot be rezoned for subdivision and other uses without going through a Provincial process, with the intent of conserving agricultural lands for future generations. That’s a photo of City of Richmond Councillor and farmer  Harold Steeves above, one of the founding fathers of the Agricultural Land Reserve. 

The Province’s Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, as told by Tom Fletcher in the Saanich News educated Mr. Paton that “satellite imagery is used all the time with land use planning. Google Earth, for example, tracks changes on the land base. The Ministry of Forests uses it. Many ministries that rely on data that’s collected around the Earth’s surface use this type of imagery.”

And if it’s not “official” for the Province to use, other users can let the Province know what they themselves find on satellite imagery on agricultural lands. As Minister Popham states there are a myriad of applications for things like drones to monitor crops for disease and pests, all of benefit to farming.

“As we move into a world of more and more agritech, we’re going to see technology like this used.”

Which is a gentle  way to suggest the Provincial Liberals move into the 21st century.

Here’s a YouTube video on the RadarSat  satellite mission which provides new information on crops, weather and management for Canadian farmers.



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