Gateway & Farmland – Part 3 – Overpass information a better way

The ALC issued its approval of SFPR in December of 2008. The only people who were involved in the consultations – who had any voice in the matter – were the farmers directly on the route and a couple of other people from the Delta Farmers Institute.

In January and February 2009, the ALC very quietly approved further farmland handovers for rail expansion and the railway over pass.

In the past couple of weeks, the Farmland Defence League have learned that none of the farmers affected by these decisions were ever consulted. There was ZERO public consultation process – these farmland losses were not included in the farmland losses reported under SFPR (although they are directly related to the Gateway expansions and should have been included in both agricultural and environmental cumulative impact assessments).

We have a blatant conspiracy between the Campbell government and the ALC to subvert due public process. The BC Rail staff report indicates that the applications were received by the Commission in 2007 – but the Commission waited until the SFPR approval had gone through and then, without so much as the customary signage to alert the community, the farmland was approved for development.

If the federal government were aware of these additional features of the Gateway Project, then they were complicit in the conspiracy by failing to include them in the federal cumulative environmental impact assessment.

Below is some information provided by one of our Delta directors:

below is from the minutes of the Delta Council Meeting of January 12, 2009. The referenced report and attachments can be found the Corporation of Delta website.

If the following link opens for you, simply click on 2009 Regular Council, then scroll down and click on January 12, 2009. The subject is the first item. Click on A01. That will give you the report. To get the Attachments, click on them at the end of the report.

http://delta.fileprosite.com/contentengine/launch.asp?ID=2198

If the link does not open, simply Google: Corporation of Delta. Then click on Mayor and Council on right top area. Then scroll down and click on Regular Council Meeting Agendas. Then follow the instructions above.

The report, attachments and minutes of January 12, 2009 Delta Council Meeting reveal all about the 28th Avenue overpass. It confirms the significant role of the ALC in moving the Gateway agenda forward.

These discussions took place after approval of the SFPR.

The minutes also confirm that the property owners were not consulted.

Mr. Savage responded to a Council question relative to potential impact on nearby property owners, noting it would be advisable to complete the 28th Street overpass as quickly as possible and that to his knowledge discussions had not been held with the property owners.

A report was given to Delta Council at their meeting of January 12, 2009. The Report and Attachments are attached to this email. There is a long history. I copy and pasted the report into Word. To me it looks like a lot of deliberation behind the scenes. This should have been included in the assessment of the SFPR, especially cumulative effects.

The following is from the Minutes of the January 12th, 2009 Delta Council Meeting.

41B St and 28 Ave Overpasses – ALC (A.01) Report by the Engineering Department dated December 22, 2008 regarding 41B Street and 28 Avenue Overpasses – Agricultural Land Commission. (File: 6.5.4.501.7.22)

Representatives from the Delta Farmers’ Institute (DFI) were in attendance.

Tim Murphy, Roads and Transportation Manager, provided a PowerPoint presentation outlining the history of this project and development of the conceptual design of the overpasses.
Mr. Murphy noted the proposed 41B Street overpass is envisioned as a one quadrant interchange in response to comments from the DFI, who had suggested the road be as straight as possible to assist in maneuvering farm equipment.
Diagrams of existing traffic patterns, current farm traffic routes and proposed future agricultural roads were shown, as well as alternate improvements required to meet traffic requirements.
Mr. Murphy provided the following information:

  • 41B Street is an important route for the farming community.
  • An overpass at 41B Street should be constructed and the design should consider future travel demands.
  • Port Metro Vancouver and BC Rail wish to close a segment of 57B Street south of Deltaport Way.
  • Prior to this closure, the 57B Street rail crossing will be equipped with signalization, which will delay farm traffic.
  • An overpass at 28th Avenue would provide an alternative route for the agricultural road network, once 57B Street is closed on the south side of Deltaport Way.
John Savage, on behalf of DFI, expressed his appreciation for the time and effort put forth on these proposals and advised the DFI is in support of staff’s recommendations.
MOVED By Cllr. Hawksworth,
  1. THAT support for a 28th Avenue Overpass of Highway #17 be reaffirmed.
  1. THAT an overpass at 41B Street and Deltaport Way be generally supported at this time, subject to confirmation of the integration of the planned Tsawwassen First Nation’s Road Network Plan with Delta’s Road Network.
  1. THAT further developments of the conceptual design for the 41B Street overpass minimize long term consumption of agricultural land as well as include provision for the future travel needs of the Tsawwassen First Nation, including provision for a higher capacity interchange which provides free flow movements in consideration of anticipated future traffic generation from planned industrial lands and Deltaport.
  1. THAT staff respond to the Agricultural Land Commission with these comments.
In response to a Council query, staff advised the Tsawwassen First Nation had indicated support for the 41B overpass at a recent meeting with key agency stakeholders. While 41B Street had been indicated as a major access route in the TFN’s draft Official Community Plan, a planning study, including the review of road network needs, is currently underway which may affect the final design.
Mr. Savage responded to a Council question relative to potential impact on nearby property owners, noting it would be advisable to complete the 28th Street overpass as quickly as possible and that to his knowledge discussions had not been held with the property owners.
— Main Motion Amended MOVED By Cllr. Hawksworth, THAT Recommendation A of the Main Motion be amended to read:

A. THAT support for a 28th Avenue Overpass of Highway #17 be reaffirmed as a priority, that it be funded by Port Metro Vancouver, BC Rail and other senior government agencies, and that it be constructed prior to the closure of 57B Street and in conjunction with overpasses that will be constructed to support the South Fraser Perimeter Road, prior to the completion of the South Fraser Perimeter Road.

CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

— Recommendations Endorsed as Amended Question was called on the Main Motion, as amended.

CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

Donna Passmore
Campaign Director
Farmland Defence League of BC
r) 604-536-2790

ALC Conditions Not Met.doc

BC Rail Staff Report Jan 2009.pdf

BC Rail Decision – February 4 2009.pdf

Delta – Gateway Rail Overpass Jan 2009.pdf

Delta – Gateway Rail Overpass Jan 2009 – decision.pdf

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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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GATEWAY PROJECT TO ADD RATHER THAN RELIEVE LOCAL TRAFFIC, SURREY COUNCILLOR CONFIRMS

stopgatewaybus[SURREY]  It is the opposite result of what the people of Surrey were promised from the Campbell government’s massive highway expansion project known as “Gateway”. A message from Surrey City Councillor Barinder Rasode to citizens opposed to a road being put through Bear Creek Park confirms some of the long held fears of the Gateway 40 Citizens Network. Councillor Rasode’s message was posted on the Save Bear Creek Park facebook site (see attached).

 

“Citizens were promised that the twinning of Highway 1 and the construction of the South Fraser Perimeter Road, at an upfront cost of more than $5 billion to taxpayers, and thousands of acres of prime farmland and our most sensitive wildlife habitat, was justified because it would take traffic off the streets of Surrey,” says Donna Passmore, spokesperson for the Gateway 40 Citizens Network.  “Now that the project has been railroaded through, the truth is even worse than we envisioned.  Now the City of Surrey is using the additional traffic volume anticipated from the South Fraser Perimeter Road, to justify putting a road through Bear Creek Park, one of the most popular parks in the Lower Mainland.”

 

 

 

– 2 –

“Gateway 40’s concerns that highway expansion would create more, not less, traffic were dismissed by the BC Government and the City of Surrey,” adds Passmore. “Not even a quarter of the construction is done, and now we are being told that a road through a major regional park is required to offset the impacts. “

 

The Gateway 40 Citizens’ Network maintains that the cumulative impacts of the Gateway Project were never accurately communicated to the people of Surrey or the region.

 

“The costs of road construction and loss of recreational and wildlife area in Bear Creek Park are just the tip of the iceberg,” says Passmore. “There have been several subsequent farmland exclusions in Delta that were omitted from the original plan.”

 

The Save Bear Creek Park Citizens Action Network argues that putting a road through Bear Creek Park will harm significant salmon habitat and wildlife habitat, elevate local and atmospheric pollutants, diminish property values and quality of life for area residents.

 

“It’s not too late to rethink the South Fraser Perimeter Road, to save our farmland and wildlife habitat, concludes Passmore, “It’s time the people of Metro Vancouver stopped being economically and ecologically held hostage to the asphalt mentality that seems to dominate our local governments.”

 

Formed in 2006, the Gateway 40 Citizens Network is an affiliation of environmental, agricultural, transportation, labour, faith and community groups advocating sustainable transportation over the Campbell government’s multi-billion dollar Gateway Project.

 

– 30 –

For more information:

Donna Passmore, Gateway 40 Citizens Network – r) 604-536-2790

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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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No Gateway Bailout

People gathered in downtown Vancouver on Thursday, January 22,2009 to protest a government bailout of the Macquarie Bank and the Gateway highway project in British Columbia.  See the Youtube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i_Bn8Hv8Ng

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