Editorial: Seeking balance with farmland

Saanich council reversed its ideologically driven position of preserving every scrap of agricultural land.

On Monday night Saanich council reversed its ideologically driven position of preserving every scrap of agricultural land, even at the expense of logic or fairness to property owners.

Council voted to ask the provincial Agricultural Land Commission to rule on excluding four acres from the agricultural land reserve, which resides in what is now a residential neighbourhood in Gordon Head.

Most Saanich councillors, and indeed the majority of civic politicians across the Capital Region, are loathe to bulldoze farmland for housing subdivisions.

Top restaurants in Victoria boast about using local produce, farmers’ markets can’t keep up with demand, and gardening and hobby-farming are popular across the region.

But when 150 people showed up in Saanich council chambers and explained why a cattle feed lot or poultry farm is clearly a bad idea in the midst of suburbia, the politicians could sense which way the wind was blowing.

Sending the issue to the ALC isn’t the same as endorsing housing on the land in question, and the process could take a year, but it is a significant shift in thinking.

But what is most refreshing is that most councillors were able to budge from ideologically entrenched positions. This is what voters want from local politicians – the ability to listen to residents and weigh what makes sense. Even one-time farmer and current MLA Lana Popham agreed that when a municipality allows neighbourhoods to crop up around farmland, holding onto isolated parcels is punitive on the landowner.

If municipalities want to ensure property is preserved for agriculture, at times it will need to buy the land, which is what Saanich did for Panama Flats, and which the mayor is pushing for inclusion into the agricultural land reserve.

The vast majority ALR and non-ALR farmland in the region, though, resides in Central and North Saanich, and Metchosin. Excluding remnants amid suburban residential neighbourhoods doesn’t represent the destruction of farming.

Just Posted

Canada has enough pipelines to get the moon

Pipelines totalling 840,000 kilometres run across Canada

Christmas craft beer show coming to Victoria

50 breweries will be featured in the third annual Christmas Craft Beer Show

Canadian university profs are getting older and working longer

New statistics also show more women in Canadian university faculties

VIDEO: New UVic buildings expand student housing by 25 per cent

Over 600 new beds mean off-campus housing freed up for affordable housing for Victoria residents

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh proposes new approach to tackling opioid crisis

Singh says the government should look at harm reduction rather than punishment

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

One month after legalization, illicit cannabis shops doing brisk business

When asked what has changed since Canada legalized on Oct. 17, one staffer said: “We’re just busier.”

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

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

POLL: Have BC Ferry waits ever forced you to cancel your travel plans?

Many BC Ferry passengers heading out from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen on… Continue reading

Hunter who saved B.C. man pinned inside smashed truck says ‘God was sending me to him’

Sayward man describes chance discovery of Duncan Moffat, 23, in northern Vancouver Island woods

Road-weary Canucks thumped 6-2 by Wild

Vancouver hosts the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday

Toronto private school didn’t report alleged sexual assault to police

Police say a sexual assault at an all-boys Catholic institution was not reported to them

China says butt out; Canada calls for release of “arbitrarily” detained Muslims

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman accused Canada’s envoy of going beyond their diplomatic roles

Harsh storms have nearly tripled power outages in last five years, BC Hydro says

More frequent and severe storms have damaged Hydro’s electrical systems since 2013

Most Read