Time to save Agassiz’s precious farmland

Don't forget agricultural importance when developing new OCP, says longtime resident

Our mayor and councillors have invited all of us to participate and comment on the new proposals for an official community plan.

I have lived in Agassiz since 1972, longer than the agricultural land reserve has been in force, and have lived on my present address for 31 years.

Therefore, I am somewhat informed about our community, and I want to make some comments about the proposals.

Entering our town welcoming signs greet visitors. “You are now entering Farm Country” and “Experience the rich diversity of our rural home.”

Personally my favoured, unfortunately by now slightly out of favour, expression still found there is “Corn Capital of BC.”

Agassiz, without the outlying areas, I am told, encompasses roughly 6,000 acres and that includes the present town site. Suggestions are now being brought forward to remove in the next 27 years some 400 acres of prime farmland. More than half of this land would be designated commercial and industrial. Wold the monikers mentioned above still apply?

In the past, Kent councils took great care to concentrate the urban core of commercial and residential sectors, and not allow as happened in so many other communities urban sprawl to dictate growth. Is this direction no longer sacrosanct with a 160 acres industrial park four kilometres out of town site?

Do we really want to rob our next generation of precious irreplaceable farmland for highway-commercial away from the town core, when over the last 40 years the commercial sector along Pioneer Avenue east and west has languished, and property owners have a most difficult time to rent empty storefronts?

Is our community really being served by removing substantial parcels of top of the line farmland to create more housing, when council has embarked on permitting residential developments on Mount Woodside?

Do we really need a huge influx of new residents just taking advantage of our much lower real estate prices in comparison to greater Vancouver?

We all know, that the narrow and busy Agassiz-Rosedale bridge is getting older and more and more dangerous.

It has neither pedestrian or bicycle path. Could this bridge handle a substantial increase in traffic, and if not, would Kent council feel strong enough to force the provincial government to replace it?

This proposed official community plan is designed to last 27 years. What will happen after 2040? Will at that another large chunk of farmland be removed?

What will happen in a hundred years?

Will our descendants still require food? Will they still be able to depend for their survival on California produce? Will they thank our generation for their shortsighted destruction of our agricultural heritage? Must it be “Apres nous la deluge!”?

Let’s take the example of the big urban center of Richmond who has finally decided that every acre of still existing farmland there must be protected.

It is crucial that we all get involved. Who are better judges, we the people who call this our home, or some outsider company, hired by the municipality to decide our community’s future? May we hope that our municipal council, where three out of four councillors have an extensive agricultural background, will be in total favour to protect and save all our precious farmland?

Hermann Grau

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