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Thriving farms along Old Dewdney
Editor, The News:
Re: Farmland OK’d for new road, mall (The News, Aug. 16).
I’ve driven along the Old Dewdney Trunk Road for many years and an unmistakable trend I’ve noticed is the addition of thriving businesses. On my way home from the Pitt River Bridge, I now pass a meat shop, a winery, a nursery, a farm famous for its garlic, a fruit stand, a pumpkin patch, a dairy farm that’s a source of excellent gardening materials with an award winning cheese factory. At one point there was a Christmas Tree farm, but that’s gone now.
Several of these businesses have been around for decades but others have been added during the last decade. More and more of them are year-round operations and many of them sell value-added locally produced agricultural products. They also employ skilled workers.
The operators of these businesses are savvy people. They understand that they are living in a highly populated area and that there’s a growing trend toward appreciating and eating local food. They are diversifying our economy in a sustainable way. They may or may not be aware that relying on food that travels great distances has its risks and that developing a local food economy is a great way of adding resilience to a community.
We know that water shortages are already forcing some farmers out of business in California and the American Midwest. We also know that the changing climate is putting a lot of stress on previously productive farmland the world over. (Remember the drought and fires in Texas several years ago, for instance?) Developments like these suggest that if we can keep our agricultural land in production, opportunities for export might well grow over time.
When Mayor Deb Walters and several councilors in Pitt Meadows tell us that they want the North Lougheed Connector built to help farmers, I have to shake my head. Many farmers seem to have been managing very well without the help of the city of Pitt Meadows, aside from the few that are likely looking to sell off their land for a hefty profit once it’s been rezoned. Just what will happen to these thriving businesses on Old Dewdney Trunk if the North Lougheed Connector is built? Hopefully they can carry on, but chances are that people will start shopping at a new mall which is likely in its final planning stage. As a result less local money will be going to support local agriculture and local jobs. Instead, it will likely be crossing the border to head offices situated primarily in the United States.
We know that the North Lougheed Connector is really a “road to nowhere” which won’t ultimately relieve gridlock because the Pitt River Bridge is, as it always was, the true bottleneck. So building it isn’t a gift to commuters either, although it may be packaged that way.
As an NDP MLA in the 1990s, Bill Hartley, together with his federal counterpart MP Joy Langan, fought hard to establish the West Coast Express. This was an amazing achievement without which our commuting problems would be much worse. Since then, we’ve seen roads built and bridges widened, but there hasn’t been a commensurate amount of work giving commuters viable ways to leave their cars at home. Yet finding ways to take cars off of the road would be a considerably more rational approach to the problem the North Lougheed Connector is apparently trying to solve. How about it, Pitt Meadows Council?
Editor's Note: Rosenau ran as a New Democrat candidate in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows the May 2013 provincial election.