The Council of Canadians Delta-Richmond chapter is concerned about the impact of industrial development on local farmland.
The Delta Optimist reports, “Since Delta is still considered a farming community, despite being nestled within a growing Lower Mainland, [Ian] Paton’s [hay] farm is a scene similar to elsewhere in South Delta, but perhaps not for the long-term. …With the exception of airplanes overhead from the nearby airport’s flight schools, the farm at the end of 88th Street, started by his grandad and later operated by his dad, is an almost postcard-like setting. …[But now] large swaths of prime farmland in South Delta [could] potentially be converted for industrial uses.”
The article continues, “Paton’s concerns are heightened as Port Metro Vancouver recently warned yet again that demand for Canadian trade is growing and container traffic through Canada’s Pacific gateway is expected to nearly double over the next 15 years. Trade-enabling industrial land will be required to meet that demand or the region will miss out on economic opportunities and the costs of goods may rise, the port warns. Emphasizing the importance of consultation with communities, the port has suggested the need for a mechanism whereby a swap of farmland near ports can be negotiated for potential farmland elsewhere.”
The article notes concerns that a second container terminal at Roberts Bank could mean more warehouses and logistics centres on farmland. And there are concerns about development on a 144-acre parcel of land in west Ladner, on land immediately adjacent to Paton’s farm, and on hundreds of acres of land at Brunswick Point near the port.
The Delta Optimist article then highlights, “Citing food security concerns, the Delta/Richmond chapter of the Council of Canadians has also complained about the port’s ‘gross insensitivity to farmland and natural world values’.”
In April 2012, the Vancouver Sun reported, “The battle to save Metro Vancouver’s agricultural land is heating up, with regional officials pushing back at the potential loss of 600 acres of prime south Delta farmland for port expansion. [The] option-to-purchase agreement for the active farmland, which is now in the Agricultural Land Reserve, is tagged for a logistics and rail yard for the province’s Gateway Project.” At that time, Delta-Richmond chapter activist Cathy Wilander stated, “This is all part of a coordinated strategy to convert the last great reserve of arable land in the Lower Mainland into container storage yards, trucking depots and warehouses.”
In Dec. 2012, the chapter joined with the Wilderness Committee to speak against Vancouver Port Authority plans to expand coal export facilities in the area.
And in April 2015, the chapter joined with Citizens Against Port Expansion and others to witness the migration stopover of western sandpipers on Roberts Bank. At the time, chapter activist Bob Ages explained, “The entire species, as well as juvenile salmon, the southern resident Orca pods and many other species are threatened by the massive expansion plans of Port Metro Vancouver.”
The Council of Canadians believes in the protection of farmland. As noted in the Leap Manifesto, “We must develop a more localized and ecologically-based agricultural system to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, absorb shocks in the global supply – and produce healthier and more affordable food for everyone.”