Comments at ALC Meeting, Aug 30 2010  


Comments at public ALC hearing regarding Hudson's Bay Farm, August 30, 2010.

Hi, my name is Lana Popham, I’m the Agriculture Critic and the MLA for Saanich South.

Before I was elected, I worked on my farm for over a decade…while at the same time fighting for food security and sustainable food production.

I left a job that I loved and that inspired me every day to enter provincial politics and to take on the role as Agriculture Critic. A job that disappoints me every day…because I don’t understand why we have to fight for farming in British Columbia.

Building capacity for vehicles at all costs will never stop unless we stop doing it. Our quality of life will continue to decrease as we increase the capacity for vehicles. To remove productive agricultural land to make room for cars is unacceptable.

The ALR was put in place to protect our food growing capacity. Without it we would see little to no farming in this area [Langley] and we wouldn’t be here tonight fighting for the Hudson’s Bay Farm. Because it wouldn’t exist.

Why was this land so important back when the ALR was created but not now? It’s because the creators of the ALR - like Harold Steves - looked at our future with unselfish eyes. Agriculture has seen the lowest level ever in BC history in the past provincial budget. And that includes the budget for the ALC.

Agriculture and food production are the lowest priority for the BC government and vehicles and carbon-emitting modes of transportation are one of the highest. With this equation, It’s hard to see when these types of proposals will stop.

At a time when we know climate change will affect our ability to source food, we don’t have a made-in-BC food security plan. We seem to be setting ourselves up to be absolutely dependent on imported goods. Why? We have so much potential. The BC food self-sufficiency study that the government produced – showing that we need to increase our food producing capacity – was shelved. We have a BC Agriculture Plan, but we can’t use it because the Ministry is under-funded.

Without a plan, will we end up developing every last acre of farmland? Decisions like the one that is before us tonight, the decision to split up this valuable farm, has far-reaching implications that must be seriously considered. We have a responsibility to our future generations to ensure that we have food security in this region and Hudson’s Bay Farm is part of the solution.

We need to look at these problems with the same eyes that the creator of the ALR used. I want the ALC to fulfill its mandate to preserve farmland and not to take away our ability to feed ourselves.

My final point is a question: what is the end-game? What is the final outcome that we expect from chopping up farmland to make room for vehicles?

It is about our future survival or is it about a short-sighted plan that is unsustainable and irreversible.

Link to Langley Times news article on the ALC meeting.