Archive for Farmland

Oct 10 – Dig In for Climate Justice

Join the 350.org 10/10/10 Global Work Party to stop global warming. In the Lower Mainland join the party and work to bag sand from the proposed South Fraser Freeway to raise the dykes protecting nearby communities.


WHEN: Meet at 2:00 p.m. PDT
WHERE: Scott Road Skytrain Station (east side at taxi stand) then march to 129th St. and 115b Ave in North Surrey – near Bridgeview Elementary School (map: http://bit.ly/bQzSHl)
Featuring The Carnival Band, Solidarity Notes Labour Choir, special guest speakers, refreshments and more!
For more info see http://www.dig4justice.org/

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Another 500 Acres of Farmland for Gateway Freeway Construction

500 acres of prime farmland in the Chilliwack River Valley was not included in the environmental assessment, or in the original Gateway projections of the amount of farmland it would destroy… because it isn’t being paved over. Not exactly.

This land, which we can see thanks to the photography of Susan Federspiel (of the Chilliwack River Valley Ratepayers Association)

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/album.php?aid=13195&id=100000687315915&ref=mf

The theory is that the soil will be removed, the gravel extracted, and the soil lovingly replaced, so that agriculture can flourish. The reality is that there is not one known example in BC history where gravel extraction on farmland has not been to the detriment of agriculture.

In 2009 the United Nations declared the world is in a food security crisis, and BC literally plows along destroying farmland as though it were in infinite supply.

The Farmland Defence League and Gateway 40 Citizens Network are supporting the call for a review of the Agricultural Land Commission’s decision to allow gravel extraction on this site. To lend your voice to this effort, email:

Steve Thomson, Agriculture Minister steve.thomson.mla@leg.bc.ca
Or call his office – http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/39thParl/thomsons.htm
Shirley Bond, Transportation Minister Shirley.bond.mla@leg.bc.ca
Tony Pellett, Regional Planner, Agricultural Land Commission tony.pellett@gov.bc.ca
Agriculture Critic Lana Popham Lana.popham.mla@leg.bc.ca
Transportation Critic Harry Brar harry.brar.mla@leg.bc.ca

And copy your local newspaper – and the Minister’s local papers…
Kelowna Courier Editor – jon.manchester@ok.bc.ca
Kelowna Capital News Editor – bbgerding@kelownacapnews.com

And copy the Farmland Defence League – donnapassmore7@gmail.com

For more information on Gateway, see Stop Gateway group on Facebook

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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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Gateway & Farmland – Part 2

On May 2, 2006, then Minister of Agriculture, Pat Bell rescinded the appointment of Bill Jones to the South Coast Panel of the Agricultural Land Commission because Mr. Jones had made a comment on an exclusion application. In rescinding the appointment, Minister Bell stated, “Keeping in mind that the Agricultural Land Commission is a quasi –judicial body, and we need to ensure that it is being seen as an impartial body…”

The ALC only introduced its Conflict of Interest guidelines in March, when one of the panelists was found to be in direct conflict of interest and a decision of the Commission had to be reversed. But the BC Crown Agency Accountability guidelines would have covered Karlsen before that, and I believe by those he is clearly in a conflict of interest.

Remember – Pat Bell rescinded Bill Jones’ appointment to the South Coast Panel 2006 because Jones had made statements supporting one proposal. Karlsen was one of the authors of what is the original Gateway Project, and he is in a wildly obvious conflict of interest.

it appears that with the exception of 3 or 4 caucus members, the BC NDP under Carol James are simply not willing to fight for farmland.

So Campbell gets a Gateway supporter ensconsed as Chair of the Commission, he stacks the panels with party loyalists, like John Tomlinson (Langley Chamber of Commerce)…

I’ll attach to the next email the article “the Delta Boys” – which is as relevant today as it was back when Spedifore lands were removed from the ALR. A couple of the names have changed, but that’s all. They are still Socred/Liberal community power brokers, including John Savage and Ron Toigo. This impact of these good ol boys on the politics of farming is such that most of the farmers in Delta are terrified to speak up.

Enter lawyer and cranberry farmer Ralph May. Member of the Liberal Party executive in Richmond, but active in Delta because he has cranberry farms there.

Tony Pellett of the ALC told me that the Gateway Project was good for farming, because the province was putting money into drainage and dyking. When we gave Green Party Leader Jane Sterk a tour of the SFPR last year we visited the Hamming Farm. The Hammings told me that the Gateway mitigation measures will have no benefit for most Delta farmers, but will be of benefit to “a select few”. Harold Steves – who considers Ralph May a friend, they have been fellow Richmond farmers for many years and there is no ill will involved – says that the May cranberry farms benefits the most.

That’s a problem, given that May was the negotiator with the province on behalf of the farmers.

The Commission is supposed to operate at an arms’ length from the government. Yet, when Larry Pynn wrote the attached piece pointing out that the Gateway boys had started construction even before the Commission had ruled, the Commission issued its decision later that day.

Farmers along SFPR.pdf

ALC Conditionally approves SFPR.pdf

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Gateway & Farmland (Part 1)

Not wanting to sound radical or alarmist, we’ve all been reluctant to use the “c” word. The evidence is simply overwhelming and we can no longer ignore the reality that the Agricultural Land Commission is conspiring with the Campbell government to destroy the ALR, and the Gateway Project is one of the key mechanisms.

Every fear that we have ever had about the Gateway Project’s impact on agriculture is coming true – but in mere months instead of years.

1. Erik Karlsen – The Gateway Project was announced on January 31, 2005. Erik Karlsen was hired as the Chair of the ALC on April 1, 2005. When Harold and I met with the Commission in mid-April, Erik was boasting about how he was on staff at the Lower Mainland Planning Board and helped write the “Delta Plan” back in 1968. He also indicated that he carries “the Delta Plan” around in his briefcase.

He further indicated (as he did during the FDL dinner in July 2008) that he felt sorry for the farmers who were locked into the ALR. (Damien – I desperately need that video clip, if you still have it).

The references to the Delta Plan didn’t mean anything to me – but they sure did to Harold. He went home and dug out his copy of the Plan and sure enough, there was Erik’s name.

For those of you who aren’t aware, the Delta Plan is the short name for the Official Regional Plan proposed by regional staff back in 1968, and was one of the events that drove the creation of the ALR. It was, so to speak, the original Gateway plan – called for massive expansion of port and highways and industrialization through Delta. The 58 page report (and in the 2nd email, I’ll attach a few pages) makes only one reference to agriculture, and in the covering letter clearly indicates that the plan is seen as necessary to prevent “large land reserves”.

Although staff proposed “the Delta Plan”, the Lower Mainland Planning Board rejected it. The WAC Bennett government disbanded the Planning Board, a move that contributed to its defeat in the subsequent provincial election.

Since the ALR’s creation in 1973, any time a version of Gateway Project was floated, the ALC has rejected it, in keeping with its mandate.

It now appears Campbell had no intention of letting that happen, so he put in a Chair of the ALC who would facilitate Gateway.

I’m attaching a link from the BC Civil Liberties Association web page on conflict of interest, by which definition I believe Erik Karlsen has been in a clear conflict of interest. http://www.bccla.org/positions/political/91conflictinterest.html
Karlsen appointment news release.pdf
Our Southwestern Shores 1.pdf
Our Southwestern Shores – with staff list – 2.pdf
Our Southwestern Shores – summary – 3.pdf
Our Southwestern Shores 4.pdf

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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 GOVERNMENT VIOLATES LAND COMMISSION CONDITIONS FOR SFPR

[Delta,
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.

image002

“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

         

     http://www.canada.com/deltaoptimist/news/story.html?id=fba96cde-f456-442b-ae54-d2fb31e8026a 

 

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?

         

http://articles.latimes.com/2002/apr/10/local/me-freeway10 

 

9.     Common Myths: Freeways Relieve Traffic Congestion

 

http://www.ptua.org.au/myths/congestion.shtml  

 

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