Archive for Burns Bog

Town Hall Meeting – Jan 16 2010

The True Costs of the South Fraser Perimeter Road

Join the South Fraser Action Network for a townhall meeting focusing on the effects of the South Fraser Perimeter Road. There will be a group of speakers followed by a chance to ask questions and voice your concerns.

Saturday, January 16

1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Sundance Banquet Hall

6574 Ladner Trunk Rd.

Speakers include:

Harold Steves, co-founder of the Agricultural Land Reserve and the Farmland Defence League.

Stephen Rees, transportation economist and planner (ret.), blogger.

Eric Doherty, transportation planning consultant

Alexandria Mitchell, high school student and Copenhagen Climate Change Conference delegate.

Graeme Drew will be moderating.

Topics will include the social, environmental and economic impacts of the road, as well as actions you can take to help save Delta from the SFPR.

Have Concerns? Come Have Your Say!

All of Delta’s elected officials have been invited, come let them hear your opinion.

It is not a done deal. This road can be stopped.

For more information call Anita den Dikken at 604 948 0139.

Caption for farmland image:

Delta farmland being covered with preload in preparation for the SFPR. November, 2009.


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News Release: BC Government Ignores Land Commission Conditions on SFPR

image001the Farmland Defence League of BC

For Immediate Release:

November 2, 2009


BC] The Agricultural Land Commission placed very minimal conditions last December on the approval it granted to the Campbell government to destroy 90 hectares of prime farmland in Delta for the South Fraser Perimeter Road, but the government has ignored even those conditions.


“The Ministry of Transportation started pre-filling immediately, and destroyed more than 70 acres, some of prime soil,” says Donna Passmore, Campaign Director for the Farmland Defence League. “The agricultural capability of the farms along Burns Bog will be classes 1-3, prime soils. On the threshold of a global food security crisis, it is criminal that this great soil was sacrificed to the government’s asphalt mentality.”

Photo of land between Highway 99 & Burns Bog

Photos taken by the Farmland Defence League reveal that the Ministry of Transportation didn’t even remove foliage, let alone top soil. Given that the top soil was not salvaged, it doesn’t appear that an agrologist was in place to oversee the removal.

“The Ministry of Transportation began prefilling immediately,” says Passmore. “it exhibited callous disregard for the Land Commission, food security and the 89% of British Columbians who have said no to paving farmland. Equally disturbing, it doesn’t appear the ALC bothered to monitor what was happening to this farmland.”

Established in 1978, the Farmland Defence League of BC is a province-wide network of groups and individuals advocating the protection of farmland and sustainable food systems.

– 30 –

For more information:

Donna Passmore 604-536-2790

Campaign Director

Donna Passmore

ALC Conditionally approves SFPR.pdf

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B.C. Government destroying habitat of endangered species

Jan. 2009


The B.C. Government is bringing in fill to dump on unique Burns Bog habitat after sending a landfill operator to jail for the same offence.  During the 1990s, the B.C. Government charged a Delta landfill owner with placing waste on 7 acres of Burns Bog.  In 2004, the landfill owner was fined $715,000 and sentenced to jail for 21 days.  Subsequently, the landfill owner lost land and business worth several million dollars.  The court erroneously claimed the area of landfill was the location where the rare and endangered sub-species of the Southern Red-backed Vole was found in B.C. for the first time since 1948.  In fact, the endangered voles were found in the area where the B.C. Government is now dumping fill for construction of the South Fraser Perimeter Road.


In 1999, the endangered voles were found near the 80th Street SPCA shelter in Delta where trucks are now unloading fill for the new freeway through unprotected areas of Burns Bog.  The area is also critical habitat for 2 other endangered species, the Pacific Water Shrew and the Trowbridge’s Shrew.  These were also cited in the landfill court case.  Referring to the 7-acre parcel and the testimony of a government expert, Judge R.D. Miller stated:


“… He told me how it was home to at least three endangered mammal species, including one species (the red-backed vole) that was thought to be extinct until it was found in this area.”


While the landfill owner has been denied justice, the B.C. Government feels free to dump on several unprotected parcels of Burns Bog despite warnings from government and independent scientists.  The Scientific Advisory Panel to Burns Bog has advised that the South Fraser Perimeter Road should not be built on the unprotected properties of Burns Bog that are adjacent to the protected lands.  Their concerns have been echoed by federal and provincial scientists who warn that changes to Burns Bog are expected to be significant and irreversible causing ecological effects that cannot be adaptively managed.  In August 2007, the B.C. Ministry of Environment wrote:


“The Southern Red-backed Vole, occidentalis subspecies is provincially red-listed and is a candidate for listing as Endangered or Threatened under the BC Wildlife Act.  Five individuals of this red-listed sub-species have been captured at three locations….  Impacts from habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation will likely be significant given the sub-species’ limited range.”


During the Environmental Assessment of the new freeway, Environment Canada wrote:


“ Environment Canada concludes that the management objectives for restoration of Burns Bog, to which the Province of BC, GVRD and Corporation of Delta committed to Canada in the Conservation Covenant, and further articulated in the Burns Bog Management Plan, are likely not attainable should the project proceed as proposed.” (EC Technical Appendix, Nov.19, 2007, page 33)


“EC advises that the effects associated with building a road adjacent to Burns Bog will result in certain, permanent, irreversible impacts of a high magnitude that EC considers to be significant.”(Nov.19, page 27)


Delta owns environmentally-sensitive properties on both sides of 80th Street as well as two other properties.  Instead of protecting these properties and adding them to the protected lands, Delta is paving the way for the B.C. Government to dump fill for the SFPR.  Construction of the road is just beginning and permanent irreversible damage is already taking place.


Ironically, the $1-billion freeway is not needed as the container business is not growing as predicted.  Supporters of the freeway are deluded into believing the propaganda that the freeway will help local traffic issues while research proves that freeways bring more traffic congestion over time. 


Sources of Information


1.     Delta Optimist: Highway Work Near Animals, January 14, 2009



2.     Court Case:  Provincial Court of B.C., Reasons for Sentence; Miller, R.D. June 2, 2004 AB. Vol. 12. p.p. 2366-2388:

     Page 15: “Clearly the subject property here (Burns Bog) is a unique ecological area supporting rare flora and fauna as well as an essential wildlife habitat, and therefore this offence should be severely condemned…

     ‘If the damage is irreparable, extensive, persistent, or has numerous consequential adverse effects, the penalty must be severe.’

     This description of damage again clearly fits the case before me, and therefore I must consider a severe penalty.”

     Pages 21-22:  sentence of 21 days and 2 fines totaling $715,000

     Quote in text above:

“… He told me how it was home to at least three endangered mammal species, including one species (the red-backed vole) that was thought to be extinct until it was found in this area.”

Pages 6 & 7, Statement (20)


3.     Burns Bog Ecosystem Review: Small Mammals, December, 1999, Mark Fraker, Claudio Bianchini, and Ian Robertson, Robertson Environmental Services Ltd. and TerraMar Environmental Research.


4.     Reference to voles at 80th Street in Delta: Environmental Assessment Application for the SFPR, Vegetation and Wildlife Impact Assessment, Technical Volume 12, Robertson Environmental Services Ltd. September 2006; pages 30, 85 and 93.  The reference is also found in the actual study cited in #2 above.


5.     Burns Bog Ecosystem Review Study: Status of Wildlife in Burns Bog, Delta – 1999, Martin Gebauer


6.     Letter from B.C. Ministry of Environment, Environmental Stewardship to Environmental Assessment Office, Re: The South Fraser Perimeter Road Development Application, August 21, 2007.


7.     Technical Appendix, Environment Canada Comments on South Fraser Perimeter Road, Environmental Assessment, November 19, 2007, pages 27 and 33.


8.     Will More Freeways Bring More Traffic?



9.     Common Myths: Freeways Relieve Traffic Congestion  


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SFPR – Federal Announcement

IMPORTANT – Monday SFPR action w/Gordo & Falcon

<<a bulletin from >>


Tomorrow — Monday Jan. 12, 2pm — Gordon Campbell, Kevin Falcon, and Federal reps will be making an “announcement about the South Fraser Perimeter Road” at the Surrey Fraser Docks.This announcement may concern new Federal funding for the SFPR.

MAJOR MEDIA WILL BE THERE. Let’s greet them with a large outside presence, and let them know that the people of the Lower Mainland demand TRANSIT NOT FREEWAYS — GREEN WAYS, NOT GATEWAY!

The announcement will be behind the fence on Port property, so public access will be controlled (interesting, that they need to control access for a public announcement…what are they afraid of?).

Please  join us there between 1 and 2 pm, with signs, drums and banners if you got em! (we will have some extra to share).

The announcement site is at the Surrey Fraser Docks on Elevator Road. Google map
To get to the site: you can take the #640 bus from Scott Road Station. (bus schedule) Ask the driver to let you off at River Rd & Elevator Rd. OR take the #312 from Scott Road Station to Townline Divers

Thanks all! We look forward to seeing you tomorrow, as we continue to demand better solutions than Gateway and, in the leadup to the Provincial election, let our leaders know what the public wants.

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New Democrats slam Campbell’s plan to bulldoze prime Delta farmland

For Immediate Release
Dec. 9, 2008

DELTA –The Agricultural Land Commission’s decision to reluctantly hand over prime Delta farmland to Campbell government bulldozers reveals the extent to which the integrity of the farmland protection process has been destroyed, say New Democrat MLAs Charlie Wyse and Guy Gentner.

The commission has reluctantly agreed to remove 90 hectares from the Agricultural Land Reserve so the Campbell government can proceed with its preferred route for the South Fraser Perimeter Road, despite widespread public opposition. The commission said it “deeply regrets that suitable highway alignment alternatives to the use of prime agricultural land were found not to be acceptable from transportation and environment perspectives.”

The news follows last week’s discovery that construction along two sections of the proposed route started before any decision had been finalized.

“The way the Campbell government has pushed through its chosen route for the highway demonstrates an appalling arrogance. They’ve shown that they’ll do whatever they want, when they want, regardless of rules and community opposition,” said Gentner, the MLA for Delta North.

“As far as I’m concerned the commission has been strong armed into a decision that is the beginning of the end of the farmland protection process,” said Gentner. “Campbell’s route for the highway threatens one of the best soil bases for farming in all of B.C., and its removal shows the duplicity behind the Premier’s ‘green agenda’.”

Agriculture critic Charlie Wyse says the decision to fragment the farmland will deteriorate the agriculture economy in the area.

“Farmers have said they are deeply concerned that the highway will threaten irrigation and drainage systems that support agricultural production,” said Wyse. “The Transportation Minister won’t say how he plans to mitigate the impact his project will have farmland, the Burns Bog ecosystem, and neighbourhoods in Delta or how his government will enhance agriculture elsewhere in Delta.

“On the one hand the Campbell government has made promises to British Columbians to be more prudent in spending and help the economy, while on the other, the cost of the project has skyrocketed and the agricultural economy stands to suffer.”


Media contact: Leah Herman (604) 802-8376

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ALR Conditional Approval

Gateway Campaigners and Farmland/Food Security Advocates –


Within hours of the Vancouver Sun hitting the paper boxes on Friday morning (with Larry Pynn’s story about construction on the South Fraser Perimeter Road starting before the ALC approval), the ALC responded by conditionally approving the decision.


Here’s the direct link to the decision:


Given the timing, I can’t help but wonder if the Commission (which is supposed to be arms’ length from government) was in any way pressured to issue its decision to take the heat off.


This decision appears to rely on two problematic foundations: community need and net agricultural benefit.


Was the Decision Influenced by Politically-appointed Panel?

Another side of the decision, is that it was made by the South Coast Panel – a panel made up of Liberal party supporters. John Tomlinson (Langley) was a provincial Liberal constituency executive, fundraiser and generous donor. Michael Bose (Surrey) while generally very pro-agriculture, was nominated by former Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. I see some positive signs of Michael’s finger prints on the decision, and particularly the requirement that the Hamming farm be given replacement land of equal agricultural capability. That echoes of the City of Surrey’s agriculture by-law (probably the most progressive in the province) that requires for every acre the City excludes from the ALR, it adds 2 acres of equal agricultural capability.


Community Need

The 2005-2008 Service Plan for the ALC specifies the conditions under which the Commission may “exclude” land.


The Commission also may exclude suitable agricultural land to meet community needs in cases where no alternatives exist


But the Agricultural Land Commission Act does not treat roads and highways as exclusions: they are considered a “non-farm use” and although the land is essentially permanently lost to agricultural productivity, the land is still counted as being in the ALR. (One of the founders of both the ALR and the Farmland Defence League, Harold Steves estimates that approximately 30% of the Fraser Valley’s ALR is under “non-farm use” ) Is the link to a legal opinion commissioned in 2007 by Smart Growth BC, which concludes that “community need” is beyond the spectrum of the Commission’s authority. Since this opinion was issued, the Commission have ceased to use the language “Community Need” but continue to write decisions, such as the SFPR decision, that are clearly influenced by considerations of community need.


Net Agricultural Benefit

The ALC stated that the mitigation measures (and particularly the drainage) will vastly enhance agricultural productivity throughout Delta, turning the South Fraser Perimeter Road into a benefit to agriculture.


Although we have never obtained a legal opinion specific to ‘net agricultural benefit’, it is believed that this consideration is beyond the scope of the ALC, for much the same reasons as the ‘community need’ benefit.


Net agricultural benefit was offered – and strenuously fought – by Harold Steves and the Garden City Lands Coalition on the application to exclude Richmond’s Garden City Lands. Environmental lawyer Bill Andrews wrote a legal opinion for the Boundary Bay Conservation Committee in their fight against Ron Toigo’s removal of 28 acres of ALR for upscale housing development in the middle of the Tsawwassen Golf Course.


Harold Steves’ basic assertions on this issue is that agricultural drainage is, like any community service (roads, health care, etc) paid for by the tax payers and must not be a bargaining chip to enable the destruction of farmland.


What are the real costs of the mitigation measures?  December 9th Vancouver Sun – Farmland Defence League


  • The ALC told me that the costs of the mitigation measures they made conditions of their approval will cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars.  It is interesting that the BC government is only offering up $26 million. Gateway 40 reps – myself (Fraser Valley Conservation Coalition) and Don Hunt (Sunbury Neighbourhood Association) are having lunch with Bruce Ralston (North Surrey MLA and NDP Finance Critic – and a former very successful agriculture critic), and you can bet we’ll be discussing this.


  • Whether $26 million or $100 million, this is money that was not part of the public discussion of the South Fraser Perimeter Road. Is there some infinite pot of money – particularly in this economy – to throw at these projects?


Drainage Plans to Ignore Sensitive Environment of Burns Bog and Fraser River

It is extremely important for the habitat conservationists among us to note the qualifying statements of the Commission around drainage, and specifically that drainage is to serve the interests of agriculture and NOT environmental concerns. This could be the death knell to Burns Bog, whose hydrology – and relationship with the Fraser River – is certain to be seriously impacted by the South Fraser Perimeter Road.


It also poses serious concerns for other non-farm properties. When Highway 99 was built, it altered the flow of ground water in Richmond (these issues persist throughout our valley flood plain). The Farmland Defence League has been extremely concerned that the SFPR will cause flooding. Not flooding on the farms, which is great, but how are homes and businesses adjacent to the road to be protected – or are they?  There is no talk of money to protect those investments.


No Consideration of Changing Global Food Security Situation

It is regrettable that the ALC continues to rely on its own historic decisions, and does not appear to have given farmland preservation elevated priority given the seemingly daily diminishing global food security situation.



In response to questions about how the ALC intends to mitigate against agricultural losses from elevated pollution levels, they said they didn’t look at that issue, but relied on the Environmental Assessment Certificate. Those of us who went through that process know it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

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Campaigns update Dec 08


Larry Pynn (Vancouver Sun) wrote a major piece in Friday’s paper on the farmland impacts, quoting NDP Ag Critic Charlie Wyse as stating that the NDP are opposed to SFPR.  Within hours of that item hitting the newsstands the Commission approved “with conditions” the exclusion of the lands. 


We continue to campaign aggressively. When we launched Gateway 20 (approaching Gateway 50) we said that the goal was the May 2009 provincial election. That remains the case. We just watched in Vancouver how a coalition of environmental interests defeated Peter Ladner (preserving the greenest member of the NPA, Suzanne Anton).  Now, similarly, we are seeing how coalitions of political moderates have de-throned the big business interests of Stephen Harper. We must similarly call on our provincial politicians to unite to defeat the most ecologically dangerous government in BC history: the Campbell Liberals.



The only way that we are going to stop Gateway is to defeat the Liberal government. In particular, we need to defeat the two worst enemies of the environment: Kevin Falcon and Gordon Campbell.  I AM CALLING ON CAMPAIGNERS WITH ALL GROUPS to sign on for door-knocking days and send teams of people to Cloverdale and Vancouver Point Grey, to knock on doors and tell the voters in those ridings how their elected official is devastating the environment, health, etc,  in your community.

Campbell is a considerably easier target, as Mel Lehan is a very high profile, visibly hard-working and highly electable opponent. 

I need door-knocking teams to start working these ridings – every weekend from January to May.  We need

GATEWAY/Deltaport Teams (Delta-Surrey) 

CAUSS/Silverdale Teams (Mission)

Farmland Defence League Team 

VALTAC/TRAHVOL teams (Tsawwassen)

Fraser River Coalition 

 Similarly, we ask our member groups with representation in those ridings to arrange forums for each of the groups (the easiest example to come to mind is Karl’s environment committee at Unitarian Church). These don’t have to be meetings of hundreds of people – collectively, we can make a lot of headway speaking to mixtures of small and large groups.

I am working on a big rally in the premier’s riding – in partnership with labour and environmental groups – for closer to May, and, as recently reported, an  Echoes of Stop Gateway Rally at the East Delta Hall – probably in late February/early March. 

Thanks everyone!

Donna Passmore

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