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Council of Canadians Condemns Land Grab in Delta, Demands Public Inquiry

LADNER, BC: The controversy in South Delta is growing.  Citing land shortages for the gateway project the Emerson Real Estate Group has optioned 600 acres of agricultural land to develop for use as a rail and industrial area.  The Council of Canadians joins with local residents to oppose the potential loss of agricultural land, the port expansion and a proposed free trade zone.

“Rumours of shady land deals have been circulating for some time but this assault on precious Agricultural Land Reserve revealed by our local MLA yesterday is shocking,” declared Cathy Wilander, chair of the Delta/Richmond chapter of the Council of Canadians. 

This exposure of multi-million dollar speculative option agreements comes just as the Council and allies prepare to launch a massive campaign to stop the industrialization of the Fraser Delta.

There is a long history of community support for preserving and protecting Delta, including last year’s occupation of the South Fraser Freeway,” said Ms. Wilander. “In fact ‘Ours to preserve by hand and heart’ is the municipality’s official motto.”

“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. Combined with other developments already announced or in the works you won’t recognize the Fraser delta in ten years – if we don’t stop this travesty.”

Council of Canadians board member and Ladner resident Bob Ages expects the BC union movement may very well lend its weight to the campaign. “Plans for a Free Trade Zone around Deltaport have rung alarm bells,” Ages noted. “We know this is not about a few dollars in customs duties which can already be rebated on re-export according to current rules. This is about undermining employment and environmental standards in an endless race to the bottom that nobody wins.”

On Monday April 2 the Council’s executive director Garry Neil and political director Brent Patterson toured the area to see for themselves what is at stake and the development already underway. “It is perhaps more than just coincidence that this news hit the front pages just two days after our visit. This issue has been simmering for some time and is now coming to a head,” Mr. Neil explained.

“We applaud the perseverance and tenacity of the researchers who dug up this damning information, but we suspect it is just the tip of the iceberg. There are similar rumours regarding ALR land all the way to Barnston Island,” said Mr. Neil. “This could be a scandal of BC Rail, Airbus or F-35 proportions. We need a public inquiry into the activities of this unholy alliance of Port Metro Vancouver, federal and provincial politicians, multinational shipping conglomerates and land speculators.”

“The so-called Gateway initiative is multi-faceted and so too will be our response. The Enbridge pipeline, the South Fraser Freeway and the proposed free trade zone, they all represent 1950’s thinking that won’t solve the problems of the 21st century.  The campaign by our local activists to stop the destruction of farmland and critical western flyway habitat around the Fraser delta will have the full support of the Council of Canadians – Canada’s largest social justice organization with 75,000 supporters and activist chapters from coast to coast to coast,” declared Garry Neil.                                                                   

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