A local farmer is trying to do her bit to protect local agriculture, possibly at her own expense.
Last week council unanimously approved a resolution to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) that recommends inclusion of Carol Davidson’s rural lot at 5058 West Saanich Rd. into the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
Davdison is now awaiting a verdict from the ALC. The request covers an area of 0.95 hectares and is part of a larger parcel covering an area of 3.07 ha, which sits across from Observatory Road.
Councillors followed the wishes of Davidson, a vocal farmland supporter, who says classifying the land as ALR would “provide long-term protection and bring attention to its agricultural potential.”
Council could have forwarded the request for inclusion without a specific recommendation, as per the recommendation from district staff.
While the decision to include or exclude land from the ALR lies solely in the hands of the ALC, council’s choice to recommend inclusion raises the likelihood that the ALC will include the property in the ALR, thereby raising the bureaucratic obstacles for Davidson to sell the property at a later date.
While Davidson acknowledged that her move might cost her in the future, she said that she was pursuing a larger goal.
“The whole reason why I’m putting in [the ALR request] is to protect agriculture,” she said.
Davidson said she argued against staff’s recommendation, even as she might have benefited from it in the future, because it is inconsistent with Saanich’s claim to protect and promote local agriculture.
Davidson plans to use the lot as an apple orchard and sheep pasture.
A conservation covenant protects about 69 per cent of the parcel and the lot to be included in the ALR actually falls outside the covenant area.
Council, a staff report noted, could recommend to the ALC that the entire lot be included in the ALR, provided it “is comfortable with the loss of control over the covenant area.”