Opinion

Letter: Ensuring food security for B.C.

Long-term protection of our food producing lands is critical to ensuring British Columbia’s food security. Since serious changes were proposed to the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) earlier this year as part of Bill 24, our farmland has been under threat.

Now, in the middle of summer—harvest time for most BC farmers—the government has opened an engagement process on the proposed changes.

Please take action and let the government know you want all of BC farmland to remain protected.

It is critical that despite the bad timing, we weigh in on this issue. The engagement process closes on August 22. It’s time to let the government know that you do not agree with some of the proposed changes to the ALR— a system of farmland protection that has been lauded and recognized around the world. A system that works.

The proposed changes maintain strong farmland protection for the proposed Zone 1 (Vancouver Island, the South Coast and the Okanagan) but in Zone 2 (the rest of the province), there would be new rules allowing non-agricultural uses of agricultural land, including oil and gas development, industrial and recreational development as well as subdivisions. The entire Kootenays as well as 90% of our province is in Zone 2.

Please take action. Stand with BC farmers by sending an email to the government. Let them know that you don’t agree with the new zoning. Strong protection of farmland must remain in place for the Kootenays and all of BC.

After local MLA Bill Bennett’s statement that to eat local “where I come from, you’d have to eat hay,” Kootenay farmers sent two of our own to Victoria to prove him wrong. Erin Harris from Kootenay Meadows in Lister and Oliver Egan from Edible Acres in Windermere delivered a strong message opposing the changes, bringing with them a cornucopia of Kootenay products to display on the lawn of the BC Legislature.

The high quality of agricultural lands in the Kootenay region was recently re-emphasized by the Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission: “the majority of prime agricultural lands are situated in the Interior, Kootenay and North regions” (all regions included in the new Zone 2). Soil experts have publicly opposed the proposed changes to the ALR and former Minister of the Environment Joan Sawiki calls it “short-sighted” as it would significantly weaken “the most successful agricultural land preservation program in North America.”

This is our legacy and our children’s future.

Ensure food security for all British Columbians.Take action by sending an email to the government. Let them know that the proposed changes to the ALR, specifically the newly proposed zones, do not help farmers but leave them vulnerable to outside interests.

If you have any questions, the Wildsight team would be happy to discuss this issue further with you. You can reach us at office@wildsight.ca or by phone at 250.427.9325.

 

Sincerely,

~Robyn Duncan and the Wildsight Team

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