This is an urgent call to action to all agricultural, wildlife conservationists, naturalists, recreationalists… everyone who has an interest in protecting this region’s green zone.
It’s under attack, and the first line of battle takes place at public hearings next Tuesday evening at Metro Vancouver (Burnaby) … http://www.gvrd.bc.ca/education/pdf08/Public_Meeting_Notice_Delta-Green-Zone.pdf for notice of meeting.
Important Background Information:
With one exception that seems to have slipped through, this will be the first removal of land from the Green Zone since it was created – and marks a dangerous precedent. The Green Zone – part of the Livable Region Strategic Plan – was part of the largest public consultation process in western Canadian history and represents the will of the people of this region.
Now, developer-influenced local politicians are lining up to start dismantling the Green Zone. At risk is our food security, our wildlife habitat, our wetlands and the natural spaces that give this region its defining natural beauty. And because so much of the Green Zone is adjacent to waterways, our fisheries conservationists should support keeping the Green Zone intact.
The Green Zone was created as a permanent reserve – not a land bank for greedy developers.
The meeting notice below states that “all persons who believe their interest is affected…”
BC farmland is a provincial resource, and not a local issue. As we stand on the threshold of both global climate change and a global food security crisis, every citizen in the province – and millions of wildlife that share our region – are affected by this decision.
Please arrange with the members of your group/community to have coverage for several evenings, because it is expected that this meeting will carry over to subsequent nights.
In addition to appearing and speaking in person, please take these two important steps:
a) Spend the next week talking/writing to your local representatives and/or the entire board of MetroVancouver. Contact information for the Board can be found at http://www.gvrd.bc.ca/board/directors-contact.asp
b) Put your comments in writing in addition to speaking in person, and have them on letterhead where you represent an organization or group.
This is NOT a Delta issue. Please help protect the Green Zone while we have one to protect. Details on the meeting and the specific application can be found below.
Farmland Defence League of BC
NOTE: The boycott of White Spot Restaurants, owned by Shato Holdings, remains in effect until Toigo relinquishes his plan to remove any farmland from the ALR.
From Delta’s Boundary Bay Conservation Committee
Re: Tsawwassen Golf and Country Club Redevelopment at 16th Avenue and 52nd Street (Shato Holdings Ltd.)
Application to Metro Vancouver from Delta Council seeking removal of 28 acres (11.5 ha) from the Green Zone Map of the Livable Region Strategic Plan
Reasons why Metro Vancouver should not approve removing 28 acres from the Green Zone Map of the Livable Region Strategic Plan:
· Metro Vancouver will be setting a precedent under the new policy of removing land from the Green zone. The policy is new due to the passing of B.C. Order-In-Council 768, November 22nd, 2007.
· Building condos and apartments on 28 acres (11.5 ha) in the middle of 5 properties will effectively alienate 137 acres (56 hectares) of ALR and Green Zone. There will be 437 units including 194 strata units and 243 apartments in 4 apartment buildings (two four-storey; one five-storey and one six-storey). In addition, there will be a 2-storey clubhouse, spa and gym, and a neighbourhood store/café. This development will be surrounded by a golf course that remains in the ALR.
· Delta is applying to remove 28 acres in the middle of 137 acres from the Green Zone Map.
· There is no need to remove land from the Green Zone for housing. On Feb. 16th, 2007, the South Delta Leader printed an article by Jeff Nagel, ‘Land for more housing far from exhausted: GVRD’. The report stated that a Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) study on housing in the Lower Mainland has shown that the predicted population growth over the next 25 years can be accommodated without touching the ALR or the Green Zone:
“The good news is we don’t have to touch the agricultural land and we don’t have to touch the Green Zone,” said regional development division manager Christina DeMarco. “We have plenty of room to grow within the existing urban footprint.”
· The development does not adhere to the principles of ‘Smart Growth’. The Executive Director of Smart Growth claims there should be no exclusions from the ALR in order to stop speculation of farmland.
· Delta is setting a precedent by passing bylaws that are not consistent with Delta’s Official Community Plan, the Tsawwassen Area Plan and Delta’s Future Land Use Plan. Height and density exceed the limits in the community plan.
· The project on the outskirts of town also exceeds the density permitted in the Tsawwassen town centre. There are no public amenities in this location.
· The designation and zoning of the ALR lands are inconsistent with Section 46 of the Agricultural Land Commission Act as they fail to recognize agriculture in the OCP and Zoning Bylaw. They also indicate a future land use that impairs the intent of the Act.
· Legal Counsel to Delta has advised that approval of the project would make it difficult to refuse subsequent similar applications. Approval of this development will set off a domino effect of new development applications on Delta’s ALR.
· This development is definitely a net loss of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve. Delta Council applied to the Agricultural Land Commission and requested approval of ALR exclusion
“only if it concurs with the applicant that the proposed exclusion/inclusion presents a net benefit to agriculture in Delta.”
The Agricultural Land Commission excluded the 28 acres but never addressed the issue of “net benefit to agriculture in Delta.”
Tsawwassen golf-course development ‘thin edge of the wedge’, says Agricultural Land Reserve activist
Straight Issues By Matthew Burrows
Publish Date: January 10, 2008
Harold Steves believes developer Ron Toigo’s plan to redevelop the Tsawwassen Golf and Country Club is the “thin edge of the wedge” as far as the continued erosion of regional farmland goes.
A long-time Richmond farmer and city councillor, Steves helped draft the Agricultural Land Reserve government policy in 1972. Now Toigo’s development will remove an 11.5-hectare parcel north of the existing course from the ALR.
“The Toigo thing is very small, but when you put it all together, it is going to hit Delta like a sledgehammer,” Steves told the Georgia Straight. “When you add that to the loss to the Deltaport expansion and the loss to the South Fraser Perimeter Road, you end up with a huge, vast area of farmland in one block that is certainly going to affect the productive viability of the Delta area.”
How self-reliant are British Columbians?
> Ratio of fruit imported to/exported from B.C. in 2001: 3:1
> Vegetables consumed in B.C. in 2001: 765 million kilograms
> Vegetables grown in B.C. in 2001: 331 million kilograms
> Farmland needed to grow food for one person per year: 0.52 hectares
> Number of city lots this roughly equates to: 6
> Irrigated land needed in B.C. to ensure healthy diets in 2005: 215,000 hectares
> Amount of B.C. farmland with access to irrigation in 2005: 189,000 hectares
Source: B.C.’s Food Self-Reliance, a 2007 report by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
Toigo’s Vancouver-based Shato Holdings purchased the golf course a year ago and plans on making it full-size and, controversially, adding 442 housing units. The Agricultural Land Commission ruled in Toigo’s favour in November, approving the land swap subject to Delta council approving the plans and sending them to a full public hearing. At the January 7 meeting, Delta council did just that and voted in favour of proceeding to the meetings step. The public meetings begin at 7 p.m. on January 22 and 23 (and 24 if needed) at the South Delta Recreation Centre.
Outside the council chambers, Toigo responded to Steves’s “thin edge of the wedge” claim by stating, “That is an old cliché.”
Steves referred to the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands’ 2007 B.C.’s Food Self-Reliance report, which claims that farmers in 2025 will need 281,000 acres of irrigated food-producing land to ensure British Columbians have access to healthy diets. The report adds that the amount of land must increase by 92,000 hectares over 2005 levels. Steves said that “any loss of agricultural land is going to be on the negative side rather than the positive in terms of trying to find more land.”
“In the next 15 to 20 years, we are going to be looking at converting golf courses back to farms, and horse farms and stables back to food-producing lands,” Steves said. “That’s if we are going to be feeding ourselves. If we are not going to be feeding ourselves, well, I guess we will probably have to grow our food in our own back yards.”
The Straight asked Toigo if he thought British Columbians could grow enough food in the region to feed themselves.
“One of our companies, White Spot restaurants, gets the majority of its food from this region,” he said. “We have as big an interest as anybody in being able to grow food in the region. We are a very strong proponent of it, and every French fry that you eat in a White Spot anywhere in the region comes from right here in Ladner, so we are as strong an advocate of this as anybody is. The best way to support farmers is to buy what they grow.”
Speaking to the Straight in December, Delta mayor Lois Jackson singled out Brunswick Point—located north of Tsawwassen First Nation lands—as another potentially divisive issue in her municipality.
“There is a big peninsula there and it has been farmed by farm families for four generations,” Jackson said. “The provincial government has said that they [the Tsawwassen First Nation] can purchase that land, and my feeling is, if that land is purchased by the band—just the same as what they have got there now—it will all go. It will all go. It will go to housing, it will go to casinos, and it will go to all kinds of things.”
B.C. agriculture and lands minister Patrick Bell did not respond to messages by the Straight’s deadline
Are we doing enough to preserve agricultural land?
Executive director, Smart Growth BC
“Of course not. We don’t think there should be any [ALR] exclusion applications, period. That would remove a lot of the speculation that is going on. If it was known that there are no exclusion applications and that farmland remains as farmland, it wouldn’t create all this speculation which makes people want to sell it because they think it has value.”