Some of British Columbia's most productive agricultural land could turn into highways and parking lots in the coming years unless changes are made to the Province's Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), says a new report by the David Suzuki Foundation.
"B.C.'s farmland is facing death by a thousand cuts," says Ann Rowan, director of the sustainability program at the David Suzuki Foundation. "We need decisive leadership from the province to ensure our best farmland doesn't get paved over."
The report Forever Farmland shows how in recent years farmland that is nestled along the edge of towns and cities has fallen prey to regional development. Between 2001 and 2006, thousands of hectares from Courtenay to Invermere have been eliminated from the ALR and converted into subdivisions. The pressure to remove land from the ALR is greatest near the major population centres where the most productive farmland is predominantly located.
While supporting local farming may seem to be the first step in creating a sustainable food system, local farming can only be supported if there is adequate land on which to farm.
Ann Rowan - Director of Sustainability, David Suzuki Foundation - Since 1990, the David Suzuki Foundation has worked to find ways for society to live in balance with the natural world that sustains us. Given our rich natural assets and the strong environmental values, Canada should be a world leader in sustainability. However, in a recent study comparing the environmental performance of Canada to other developed countries, we finished 29th out of 30.
Erik Karlsen - Chair, Provincial Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) Erik Karlsen is a professional land use planner with over 35 years experience in advisory through management level positions in federal, provincial, regional and local levels of government and private sector. Mr. Karlsen worked for the BC Provincial Government for 29 years leaving in April 2002. Since then he has been a consultant, a member of advisory committees and taught at Royal Roads University in the Masters of Environment and Management Program. Erik Karlsen has been awarded several awards of distinction for his contribution to sustainable development planning and management in BC and Canada.
Heather Stretch - Northbrook Farm / Saanich Organics - Located in Central Saanich, Heather has been growing fruits and vegetables at Northbrook for 6 years. Heather is a co-owner of Saanich Organics - a collection of small-scale farmers selling their produce through a home-delivery service and at local restaurants and grocery stores.
Robin Tunnicliffe - Feisty Field Organic Farm / Saanich Organics - Feisty Field grows a variety of fruits and vegetables near Prospect Lake within the city limits of Victoria. Robin is also a co-owner of Saanich Organics.