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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UVic political scientist wants B.C. pulp mills to help produce masks, gowns

Claire Cutler says Canada needs to become self-sufficient when manufacturing PPE

Feeding ducks bread crumbs is a harmful habit

Wild Arc suggests to never feed wildlife in general

Greater Victoria Public Library offers new online resource service to cardholders

Friends of the Library provided funding for the service

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Avoid giving dogs ice cubes, says Greater Victoria vet

Tips for keeping dogs cool and safe this summer

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

Most Read