A farmer works the fields at a property in Delta.

A farmer works the fields at a property in Delta.

Port’s hunger for farmland a ‘declaration of war’

Metro Vancouver directors fear an intensified attack on Agricultural Land Reserve

Metro Vancouver politicians are up in arms after Port Metro Vancouver CEO Robin Silvester told them more Agricultural Land Reserve farmland should be sacrificed to make way for more port expansion and the jobs that will bring.

Silvester made the presentation Thursday at a special strategy session of the Metro board in Chilliwack, where he described the ALR as emotionally but not economically important to the region and said more must be done to ensure land is available for industry.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said it’s clear Port Metro Vancouver wants to rework the ALR and press ahead with further industrialization of farmland.

“It puts us on a collision course,” Brodie said, noting his city is committed to preserving agricultural land. “We see things very much differently.”

The port already angered Metro leaders in 2009 when it quietly bought 80 hectares (200 acres) of Richmond ALR farmland near the Fraser River next to an existing port terminal that handles automobiles and containers.

Port Metro Vancouver has promised the Gilmore Farm property will continue to be farmed but Brodie said it’s clear the plan is to eventually convert it for port facilities.

“If they’re successful that could compromise all the farmland in east Richmond,” he said. “It absolutely has to be stopped.”

The session was the first time Metro leaders had a chance to quiz Silvester directly since Port Metro Vancouver unveiled its Port 2050 long-range vision late last year.

The document warns local residents’ desire to be a “lifestyle region” may throttle the port’s potential.

Regional district directors also pressed Silvester about recent statements he made suggesting the ALR is “irrelevant” in ensuring food security for the region.

“What he was presenting is not an open avenue for reasoned discussion but a declaration of war on farmland,” said Richmond Coun. Harold Steves, one of the founders of the ALR, who characterized Silvester’s comments as a “very forceful” attack on the land reserve.

Steves said he very concerned more farmland is being snapped up for possible port use.

He said farmers in Delta have told him BC Rail is buying land far from the railway or any of its assets.

“I assume they’re buying land for port expansion,” Steves said.

He noted BC Rail, as a Crown corporation, has the ability to expropriate land it wants.

And he said the port authority also asserts a right to overrule municipal zoning, the Regional Growth Strategy and the ALR.

“We will live to debate that,” he added.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts also questioned where trucks will be parked if trade through the port intensifies further.

Silvester, reached for comment after the session, called it a good opportunity for dialogue and collaboration.

“We all recognize there are some complex issues to work through to deliver the best future for the Lower Mainland,” he said. “There are land pressures.”

Silvester said Port Metro Vancouver has a “very clear focus” in making sure the 80,000 port-related jobs in the Lower Mainland continue and the Pacific Gateway serves the needs of Canada.

“If we all work together there is a win-win outcome – more trade, more jobs and more revenue for municipalities, the province and the federal government to provide all the things we need,” he said.

Asked whether Port Metro Vancouver will rule out further attempts to remove land from the ALR for port use, Silvester said there are many areas of low-productivity farmland in the region.

He suggested “win-win” scenarios may be possible where such low-grade ALR land is industrialized and some of the profits are used to improve the productivity of other farmland.

“We need to be thinking more than just about the ALR but in addition maybe a job-creation land reserve,” Silvester said. “Something built into the planning process that makes sure we will always have land for the economy to grow in the future.

“In the long-term, we can see a challenge that just protecting one type of land isn’t going to resolve.”

 

Photo above: Container ship loads at Deltaport.

 

 

Just Posted

(Adam Louis/Observer)
PHOTOS: Students leap into action in track events at Kent Elementary

At Kent Elementary, when the sun’s outside, the fun’s outside. The intermediate… Continue reading

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

One person was transported to hospital with minor injuries following a two-vehicle crash on Hot Springs Road June 10. (Adam Louis/Observer)
One hurt following two-vehicle crash on Hot Springs Road

Agassiz Fire Department, B.C. Ambulance Service attended with RCMP

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read