Farming is a business, gamble

The ALC admits the Albion flats have a drainage problem.

Editor, The News:

Regarding the article on soil and the ALC recent negative decision on the Albion area, I found the ALC made no sense at all.

In fact, logic and common sense were totally void.

One would think the Agricultural Land Commission and staff had an agricultural background along with experts in the field. This is clearly not the case.

The one quote that sums it all up: “The commission would like to see it [Albion flats] made suitable for farming again,” by Tony Pellet, regional planner.

This area has not been farmed in 100 years, for several very good reasons.

The ALC admits the area has a major drainage issue, due to poor soil conditions and inadequately served urban development. This alone would take tremendous effort and expense, excavating the poor soil and bringing in new high grade top soil.

But where would one get enough high grade top soil and at what cost?  Hundreds of trucks would be needed to remove and replace the soil.

High chromium levels are also mentioned. My dictionary refers this to be metal, not soil. Look for rusting metal.

The drainage issue would require a complete survey of elevations, with layout and the installation of a proper drainage system. This alone is a large expense requiring big equipment and thousands of man hours.

Farming in an urban area is difficult enough when a farmer has the equipment with accesses to the property.

Lougheed Highway, 240th and 232 streets are big constraints, with thousands of vehicles per day driving by at high speeds.

Farming is a business and a gamble. No farmer in his right mind would wager several million dollars on equipment and property for a very small or no return on investment.

The Albion area property owners are not farmers and do not want to farm. These business people want and need to develop the property for a return on their investment.

The alternative: retail and commercial jobs that bring prosperity and keep shopping dollars in town, plus new tax revenue, allowing for lower property taxes.

The Agricultural Land Commission has been the biggest deterrent to progress in the Lower Mainland. I am, however, hopeful the government will look at redrawing the ALC map.

The land reserve was created back in 1973, with the board being a non-elected body, deigning land owners their rights of due process. It is no wonder these land problems continue.

Jim Bulpit

Maple Ridge

 

Why are residents fighting to keep farmland?

Editor, The News:

I have read many letters to the newspaper and heard many arguments for and against the removal of the farmland in Pitt Meadows to accommodate a new shopping mall.

I am a mother and grandmother, not an environmentalist. However, it has occurred to me that during the whole process of public meetings, arguments from city hall and interested residents over the land in Pitt Meadows, that no one has asked one simple question: why?

Why are the residents of Pitt Meadows fighting so hard to keep the farmland?

What is the reason that more than 550 residents took the time to attend public meetings and signed petitions in an effort to keep the land in Pitt Meadows in the ALR, and why were they ignored by council and the ALC?

Did you know that the U.S. are using tear gas (chloropicrin) Telone (1,3‐D) Methyl bromide, metam sodium, dazomet and other fumigants to sterilize the soil in which they grow strawberries, fruit and vegetables that are being shipped to us here in Canada? Food that is being sold here in our stores in this local area.

(Do you wonder why your strawberries have no flavour?)

On investigation, U.S. drug agencies indicated that there is also enough pesticide on the food when it reaches our border that our border agencies are able to test to see which pesticides and insecticides have been used during production.

I was told that these pesticides do not entirely wash off the fruit and vegetables, and that despite washing, some residue still exists, which is ingested when the food is eaten.

I am only a parent and grandmother, but I do know this – the underground aqua ducts in California, as well as Lake Mead are drying up and California is running short of water. Lake Mead is currently 80 feet below normal levels from the 10-year drought.

A huge amount of our food is grown in that region and it is expected that in the years to come, the U.S. will not be able to continue to produce the quantities of crops that they are at the present time if they continue to run out of water.

Currently, the San Joaquin Valley is struggling to keep tomato and almond crops going, and, in fact, many trees in the almond orchards are being torn up and destroyed due to lack of water.

Where does this leave us?

In decades to come, if the U.S. do not have enough water and other countries do not have enough food to feed their own citizens, then it stands to reason that food will not continue to be shipped to Canada in the bountiful quantities that we currently enjoy.

I am told that India is still using DDT.

Who among us has not enjoyed and feasted on the local plump fresh blueberries this summer or the cranberries eaten at our Christmas table?

I am not a city planner, only a grandmother. But I know this: we need to save for a rainy day.

The farmland needs to be retained so that in the not-too-distant future, we will have the ability to grow locally produced vegetables to feed our population here in B.C.

If we do not preserve our farmland for food for our future generations, we will be in a crisis. Who among you will be able to look your grandchildren in the eye and tell them you thought that preserving the farmland was not important when they are either sick with cancer from the pesticides in imported foods or crying with hunger because food prices have risen to such an extent that no‐one can afford to eat properly.

Once the land is contaminated with shopping malls, it will never be able to be used for food production.

The second point we should all be asking ourselves is this: is there really a need in Pitt Meadows for yet another shopping mall?

Is it really justified?

When is enough, enough?

Sandie Banni

Pitt Meadows