December 10, 2008

New Democrats slam Campbell’s plan to bulldoze prime Delta farmland

[Via Donna Passmore]

Dec. 9, 2008

DELTA – The Agricultural Land Commission’s decision to reluctantly hand over prime Delta farmland to Campbell government bulldozers reveals the extent to which the integrity of the farmland protection process has been destroyed, say New Democrat MLAs Charlie Wyse and Guy Gentner.

The commission has reluctantly agreed to remove 90 hectares from the Agricultural Land Reserve so the Campbell government can proceed with its preferred route for the South Fraser Perimeter Road, despite widespread public opposition. The commission said it “deeply regrets that suitable highway alignment alternatives to the use of prime agricultural land were found not to be acceptable from transportation and environment perspectives.”

The news follows last week’s discovery that construction along two sections of the proposed route started before any decision had been finalized.

“The way the Campbell government has pushed through its chosen route for the highway demonstrates an appalling arrogance. They’ve shown that they’ll do whatever they want, when they want, regardless of rules and community opposition,” said Gentner, the MLA for Delta North.

“As far as I’m concerned the commission has been strong armed into a decision that is the beginning of the end of the farmland protection process,” said Gentner. “Campbell’s route for the highway threatens one of the best soil bases for farming in all of B.C., and its removal shows the duplicity behind the Premier’s ‘green agenda’.”

Agriculture critic Charlie Wyse says the decision to fragment the farmland will deteriorate the agriculture economy in the area.

“Farmers have said they are deeply concerned that the highway will threaten irrigation and drainage systems that support agricultural production,” said Wyse. “The Transportation Minister won’t say how he plans to mitigate the impact his project will have farmland, the Burns Bog ecosystem, and neighbourhoods in Delta or how his government will enhance agriculture elsewhere in Delta.

“On the one hand the Campbell government has made promises to British Columbians to be more prudent in spending and help the economy, while on the other, the cost of the project has skyrocketed and the agricultural economy stands to suffer.”

Media contact: Leah Herman (604) 802-8376