NDP's Lana Popham says B.C. Liberal government has declared war on farmland by firing ALC chair

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      The B.C. Liberal government has fired the chair and CEO of the Agricultural Land Commission.

      The move comes as B.C. Hydro is preparing to flood more than 12,500 hectares of farmland in the Peace River Valley as part of the $8.8-billion Site C dam project.

      Richard Bullock, a Kelowna agriculturalist and former president of the B.C. Fruit Growers' Association, has been replaced as chair by former Saanich mayor Frank Leonard.

      B.C. NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham condemned the move, calling Bullock "an effective advocate for the protection of farmland in British Columbia".

      "By firing him the B.C. Liberals are cointinuing their war on B.C.'s agricultural land," she said in a statement.

      The Agricultural Land Commission has a mandate to preserve agricultural land, encourage farming, and encourage local governments, First Nations, and the government and its agents to accommodate farm uses in their planning processes.

      There are more than 4.7 million hectares in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

      Leonard was manager of Victoria Tire Ltd.'s three Kal Tire stores before serving as the mayor of Saanich from 1996 to 2014. Prior to becoming mayor, he ran as a B.C. Liberal candidate in Saanich South, losing to the NDP's Andrew Petter in 1996.

      Popham said that the dismissal of Bullock came at a "critical time" as the B.C. Liberal government is about to release regulations pursuand to the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, which passed last year.

      "By replacing B.C.'s agricultural watchdog with someone with no background in agriculture, the B.C. Liberals are making it clear that their attack on the ALR has only just begun," she claimed.

      In the meantime, Premier Christy Clark is planning to build a new bridge to replace the three-lane George Massey Tunnel. A government video suggests it could have 10 lanes, which could intensify pressure to convert farmland south of the Fraser River into housing.

      But the biggest threat to B.C. farmland remains the Site C dam. Agrologist Wendy Holm has claimed that the soil quality and climate in this area could produce enough vegetables to feed a million people.

      The NDP has maintained that it will not support the Site C dam unless it's subjected to a review by the B.C. Utilities Commission.



      Citizen White Rock

      May 15, 2015 at 11:23am

      When your biggest contributors are real estate developers, marketers and agents, you know who butters your bread. The BC Liberals are so reliant on the real estate non-industrial complex for campaign contributions, I'm surprised the ALR still even exists.

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      It's a tradeoff..

      May 15, 2015 at 11:39am

      Site C, when flooded, (and if you can believe the number given in the article), would amount to 12,500 hectares out of 4.7 million hectares reserved farmland. That's 1/4 of 1 percent in return for reliable baseload electricity for a hundred years. By that time, humanity will have figured out nuclear fusion. Now this bit of farmland will be safely underwater until then, but presumably will be recoverable when the dam has finished being useful.

      Sounds like a reasonable tradeoff to me.

      It's helpful to abaondoned the Straight's rhetoric on this and have a look at a map for some perspective.

      Check it out ... www.statcan.gc.ca/ca-ra2001/first-premier/regions/farmbc-fermecb-eng.htm#2
      UNZOOM it a little to see what Site C actually will flood in comparison to BC.

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      Barret Van Zalm

      May 15, 2015 at 4:07pm

      The ALR was created to prevent urban sprawl, wasteful use of land.

      It was not created to encourage local sourcing, protect farmers, or any other possible assumptions given the name chosen.

      The ALR created Surrey, and who exactly is happy with that? Can't afford to serve with public transit, can't stand to commute

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      May 16, 2015 at 9:17am

      The "war on BC Peace River Valley and land agricultural land reserve" commenced years ago, when Christy Clark welcomed Bill Bennett back into cabinet, after he was kicked out.

      Bill Bennett, to the surprise of many, has become one of Christy Clark's most trusted lieutenants....

      ALR Chair Told Libs: Don't Do It
      Letter raised multiple strong objections to splitting Ag Land Reserve into two zones.

      Bill Bennett is a lawyer, a hunter and a politician, and he is not qualified to task himself with rezoning the BC Peace River Valley land out of the ALR. Read how Bill Bennett describes this amazing unique, one of a kind in the world river and valley. His words reflect how uneducated he is around agricuulture and growing food. His description is apalling.

      I consider this latest move by the current government and classify it accordingly, as more "dirty deeds done dirt cheap", by the people who absolutely know nothing about food security, or valuing irreplaceable, extraordinary, fertile land that could feed and sustain BC now and infintely for generations well into the future-- if it is not flooded for BC Hydro Site C mega dam.

      What the majority of the public are not aware of is that, BC Hydro's SiteC dam is WAC Bennett's dam power plan from *1957*. The Peace River Valley already has WAC Bennett Dam with its reservoir named, Williston lake built in the 1960's. The second dam that already exists is the Peace canyon Dam and its reservoir named Dinosaur Lake, built in the 1970's.

      This land we are talking about today is the *last* of its kind that has not been flooded. Northern BC and the Peace River have already paid the price. Large Hydro dams are obsolete now. If any power is needed (which BC Hydro has not yet proved) it costs less financially and environmentally to access geothermal power from the Pacific Ring of Fire that exists under the plates of this area already. Canada is the only country that has not accessed the pacific Ring of Fire of all the countries that can.

      Christy Clark and her Liberal government would rather flood an amazing valley that can produce food and crops that will feed 1 million people.

      This is not the 1960's nor the 1970's. Wake the hell up before it's too late

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      May 16, 2015 at 10:35am

      Richard Bullock has been an articulate, intelligent, experienced spokesperson and advocate for the the ALC and preservation of farmland. in fact he is one of very few people who had the gumption to speak out. So of course he very quickly became a target and obstacle to the Liberals carrying out their agenda. His replacement is eminently unqualified, not a farmer and casts a pale shadow in comparison.
      The only other remaining public servant who tells the truth to this incompetent government is Mary Turpel Lafond and I expect her to be their next target, probably replaced by another failed municipal candidate and Liberal hack like Ida Chong.

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      Martin Dunphy

      May 16, 2015 at 1:01pm

      It's a tradeoff:

      While you are advocating an entirely unscientific and naively satisfying "unzoom a map" to put Site C in perspective, perhaps you could also educate yourself about what percentage of B.C. land is actually arable, maybe even find a map that shows that proportion. Now that's a REAL perspective.

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      more from Bianca

      May 16, 2015 at 2:49pm

      @It's a tradeoff.. check it out:

      New interactive map reveals largest farmland exclusion in ALR history for Site C Dam

      Site C dam: The best option for new energy BC doesn’t need

      Peace Out Documentary reveals the environmental exploitation of Canadian British Columbia's Northeastern Peace River Valley region...

      i hear opinion similar to yours --a lot-- from people who are physically and emotionally disengaged from the reality and uneducated regarding what is at risk. i account this for the vast majority of people living in BC are located in the lower mainland which is approximately 1200 km away from Northern BC Fort St. John, the nearest city located near where BC Hydro plans to build SiteC mega dam. What is also unfortunate is that the pubic has not been consulted at all in this decision and it is left up to the Peace Valley Landowner Association (peacevalleyland.com) and First Nations to fight for their right to keep their land. Currently there are 7 legal court cases against SiteC. The Panel Review was held only north of Prince George which doesn't cover the majority of British Columbia.

      What is tragic is that although the current government may be fooling you along with those who share your perspective, ultimately, it will be every single person, company, etc., who depends on BC Hydro and pays BC Hydro for use of electricity that will be paying the $8Billion bill in the end, if SiteC is built, and that includes you.

      "Bennett said the government’s Hydro dividend is not sustainable and has meant that essentially “the [Hydro] ratepayer has been loaning money to the taxpayer.”

      BC Hydro paid most dividends using borrowed cash

      Sixty per cent of $5.4 billion in dividends paid out by the Crown corporation since 1992 were borrowed, energy minister says


      #keepthepeace #savepeaceriver #peacerivervalley #bchydro #sitec


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      May 17, 2015 at 12:17am

      The numbers in my comment came from The Straight's author Charlie Smith so maybe you should request that person eductate himself?

      However, I also looked up the farm area in BC from a StatsCan archive before posting.
      'The total farm area in British Columbia increased 2.3% to 6,392,909 acres since 1996. Cropland rose 9.2% to 1,525,986 acres.' (2006).
      Taking all kinds of actual FARMS into account and since you have .404686 hectares in an acre...40486 x 6,392,909 = 2,588,233 hectares of FARMS. Ok so maybe the ALR at 4.7 million hectares is bigger than the actual FARMS so you are trading 12,500 hectares of potential or active farms out of 2.588233 million hectares of actual FARMS which is about half a percent. It's not a lot, and if you go to StatsCan you will find that the area of active farmland in BC increased by far more than the .48 percent to be lost to Site C (albeit temporarily). In case you missed it.... ( from the quote above) 'Cropland rose 9.2% to 1,525,986 acres.' Well, 9.2 percent of 1.525 million acres is a sh*tload bigger than 12,500 hectares. I leave the math to you.
      BC, at least between 2001 and 2006,was actually GAINING an area of active cropland far more extensive than site C will flood.

      You might try taking a trip ( bike of course!) up to Lake Williston, which is the reservoir on the flooded forest lands that feed the WAC Bennett dam. Trees from below the water still occasionally pop up to the surface from the drowned forest below so they're still there from 1968 as is the soil. You could drain Williston if it ever became unnecessary and recover tthe forest land.

      But I guess I'm just dumb and ignorant, needing educating. Perhaps you could point me at the fountain of your (unspoken) yet superior wisdom that allows you to justify taking that kind of tone.

      By the way, there are 945,735 square km in BC. That's around 95 million hectares. Maybe you could draw us a pie chart of the 12,500 you're worried about. You'll need to zoom it though.

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      Martin Dunphy

      May 17, 2015 at 1:20pm


      I wasn't referencing any numbers in your comment, as you can see if you will read it again. I was merely replying to your suggestion to keep Site C in perspective by looking at a map of BC to see how little land would be flooded. I said if you saw a map of BC with all arable land highlighted, then that would be a real perspective, instead of comparing one flooded river valley with an entire province. It was as much for all our readers who might have been influenced by that wrongheaded comparison as it was for you.
      But thanks for the numbers anyway!

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      Tim Gileo

      Jun 4, 2015 at 12:34pm

      The article was the ndp agricultural critic disagreeing with the firing of the alc bureaucratic chair. First off that's become the official oppositions job description. No need to actually try and contribute to government between elections when stoking your useful idiots is so much more entertaining.
      Secondly the former chair deserved to be fired. We don't elect bureaucrats we elect politicians. Politicians enact laws bureaucrats enforce laws whether they are to their liking or not. Even this current critic if elected to the party in power would have to advocate for this bureaucrats dismissal. The only different is this media source would have a headline like this.
      ALC Chair installed by the liberal government of the day is fired prior to his term ending for insubordination and flaunting his authority in regards to the new ALR amended laws as outlined by legislation.
      I'm not saying that was the reason for his firing but it's hard keeping useful idiots on agenda.

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