A Central Saanich councillor publicly pushed back against an advisory committee for agriculture in Greater Victoria after that body had criticized the municipality.
The Peninsula and Area Agricultural Commission (PAAC) has asked Central Saanich to reinstate the municipality’s agricultural advisory committee, because it provided “a voice for local farmers and feedback to PAAC.”
Coun. Bob Thompson, however, pointed out that at least five local farmers sit on PAAC in challenging the premise that the absence of a Central Saaanich committee would somehow undermine the workings of PAAC.
“In terms of a Central Saanich voice on PAAC, it’s pretty strong, actually,” he said, pointing also to other connections between PAAC and Central Saanich.
PAAC last month had passed a motion to express its “disappointment” about the dissolution of the committee, while “requesting that it be reinstated because it provided a voice for local farmers and feedback to PAAC.”
Thompson said PAAC will take another look at this issue at the next PAAC meeting in March following the return of chair Phil Christie.
Coun. Niall Paltiel also touched on the issue in promising to bring forward a notice of motion that would establish a select committee to deal with some of the specific issues facing agriculture.
“In recent years, the [committee] began to centre around issues facing Maber Flats, and I think it would benefit the District, neighbours, farmers and ecologists alike who have an interest in the project to come together and focus on the future of our District asset,” he said later.
Central Saanich’s decision to disband its own advisory committee drew a negative response from members of the farming community, including former mayor Jack Mar.
He said earlier that the decision to disband the committee confirms in his mind that the majority of current Central Saanich councillors are only “paying lip-service” to agricultural issues.
“They don’t have a clue about agriculture,” said Mar. “They don’t support agriculture, period. That is why they are doing it.”
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