Local farmer Ellen Lewers spoke against participation by Sooke in the CRD’s foodlands trust program, saying local farmers need the support first. (File)

CRD ‘foodland trust’ request meets resistance from Sooke council

Too many unknowns and a lack of local land derail immediate support

Sooke councillor Al Beddows thinks a proposal by the Capital Regional District to create a “foodlands trust” should go to help existing farmers, not focus on new farmers trying to get themselves established.

The proposed foodlands trust calls for municipalities in Greater Victoria to either donate municipal land or make a commitment to fund the project through the collection of additional taxes.

But several aspects of the plan irked Beddows when the program was presented to Sooke council recently by Jeff Weightman, a project manager for the CRD.

“Is this program going to help established farmers, or focus on new farmers trying to get themselves established?” asked Beddows.

“My thought was that we would be better served if assistance was offered to established farmers.”

Weightman’s response – that the program would primarily focus on new farmers – seemed to confirm Beddows’ fears.

“So, you’re going to take 10 acres somewhere in Saanich and give it to some new farmer with no experience and no equipment, he won’t be living on the land, and you think this will be a good idea?” asked Beddows.

RELATED: CRD weighs support

Beddows’ concerns were shared by Sooke farmer Ellen Lewers.

“I just don’t see the need for a farmland trust. What’s needed is helping the farmers already here,” she told council.

Another issue centred aroundSooke having no land that met the requirements of the trust and the only lands in the program to date are in Saanich and North Saanich.

That would leave Sooke in the position of funding the program on those lands. But even there, problems were evident as there was no definitive dollar amount put forward.

The actual levy required by each municipality, council was told, would be dependant upon how many municipalities actually buy into the concept. So far, only Central Saanich, North Saanich, Saanich and Sidney have opted into the program with several others, including Oak Bay, Colwood, and Langford opting out.

“How are we going to vote to support this if we don’t even know what the cost is?” Beddows said.

“We don’t know enough … there are too many unknowns and we don’t have to go charging ahead right now. Let it sit a year and look at it then” he said, adding Sooke would be better off funding an additional community garden.

“The garden down by the Baptist church donates something like 3,000 pounds of food a year to the food bank,” he said.

Coun. Megan McMath expressed her own concerns about the concept, noting the land donated to the trust was almost exclusively in the Saanich region.

“I don’t see the benefit of donating (to the trust) given that the land is so far away from us. I would like to pursue the donation of CRD owned parkland (in the Sooke region) for the trust,” she said.

Following additional discussions, during which Coun. Tony St. Pierre and Coun. Ebony Logins both expressed some support for the trust, it was decided council would support the foodland trust concept in principle, without making a definitive commitment to participation.



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Russell Books marks opening of new location by setting Guinness World Record

Store stacks world record books more than six metres high

PHOTOS: 11th annual Gingerbread Showcase comes to Victoria

Bakers spent more than 100 hours perfecting their creations

Victoria police find fentanyl, cocaine, meth and cash during downtown arrest

VicPD arrested three people on Oct. 30 in a downtown parking lot

Petition calls on province to cover transfer fees after Island adoption centre closes – again

‘Choices clients weren’t told the ship was sinking,’ says would-be parent

VIDEO: B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Batten down the hatches: Wet and windy weekend on the way for coastal B.C.

Environment Canada issues special weather warning for Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island

BC Liquor Stores to move fully to paper bags by March

Vancouver Island to be the first to convert to paper bags in November

Tolko shuts B.C. divisions for two weeks over holidays

Head office to close from Dec. 23-27; two weeks’ downtime runs Dec. 21-Jan. 6

B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issues statement following report of RCMP cost-cutting

Port Moody mayor says stayed sex assault charge related to ‘awkward date’

Rob Vagramov said charge was related to a string of dates in 2015

Most Read