B.C.’s farmland is in trouble warns former ALC head

Richard Bullock speaking at Kwantlen in Richmond Tuesday night

Plus, let’s turn Shaughnessy into Kits and BCFerries gets it right with new ferry names

The fight for farmland
The former, fired chair of the Agricultural Land Commission has a warning for British Columbians over the fate of their farmland. In a talk on the future of farming at Kwantlen Polytechnic in Richmond Tuesday night, Richard Bullock, who was fired by the B.C. government in May (six months before his term was set to end), warned that the province’s new rules put farmland under threat. “The pressure on what’s remaining is tremendous,” said Bullock.

At the heart of his concern: Bill 24, an initiative that came out of the government’s core review of farmland protections in the wake of Christy’s Clark 2013 re-election. In May 2014, the B.C. Liberals tabled the bill, which divided the province into two zones of protection, lengthened the list of non-farming activities that landowners can pursue, and added an “economic criteria” for the six new regional panels in their assessments. The government proposed going further but did not get the changes it wanted. “Our first choice was to make the changes to how decisions are made and allow more flexibility—the way we did in Zone 2—across the whole province,” said Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett in a BCBusiness profile last October. “The two zones was not our first choice.”

While Zone 1the South Coast, part of the Okanagan and Vancouver Island—is exempt to many of the changes, the bill cleared the way for a range of industrial activities on Zone 2 territories in the Cariboo, Kootenays and Peace. “Down the road there is going to be a lot more activities on farmland that have very little to do with the work of growing food and farming” said Bullock, who saved his strongest words for the 4,000 hectares of Peace River valley farmland that will be flooded by Site C. “I’m very concerned. The river already has two very large dams; this will be the third—and it will affect a whole lot of people’s lives,” he said. “This is a pretty special place and I’m not sure all of us down south understand that.” (CBC)

Heritage house wars
Cry, the beloved Shaughnessy property owner. The city has renewed a one-year ban on tearing down heritage homes, and a handful of homeowners and real estate agents are not pleased. The Vancouver Sun’report from the public hearing on the proposal is well worth your time. In the words of one realtor concerned about a density bonus (that would compensate owners for lost property value): “A five-carat diamond is worth more than five one-carat diamonds of similar quality.”

The new Queens
BC Ferries unveiled the names of its three new ships on Tuesday—the Salish Raven, the Salish Eagle and the Salish Orca—following the #NameAFerry contest that went ever-so-slightly off the rails. When delivered from their shipyard in Poland in late 2016 or early 2017, the new boats will service routes between the mainland and the Gulf Islands, and Comox and Powell River. The new tone of the names, which acknowledge the waterways as an important part of First Nations heritage, marks a change from the geographically ambiguous, cruise ship-inspired names of the Coastal Rennaiscance, Celebration and Inspiration, notes the Times Colonist. Or the space-themed PacifiCat’s Discovery, Voyager and Explorer. And long gone is the era of the memorable Queens of Victoria, Tsawwassen and Esquimalt. May they all float on in peace.