Westward Independent

CVRD’s Questionable Dealings with Nature’s Trust and Ducks Unlimited

by Westward Independent
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I am the Chair of the Landkeepers Society and am responding to your recent article about the presentation to the CVRD Committee of the Whole by Reed Bailey.

Mr. Bailey is a highly respected Land Use Planner from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Landkeepers have had positive conversations with him in the past sharing concerns about the lack of attention and priority to Farming and Food Security in BC. His concern about the loss of viable farmland is shared with Landkeepers.  Our Mission Statement is to support and advocate for all Farmers and Private property owners province-wide.

Conversations with Mr. Bailey, Mr. Bejay Mills, Community Agrologist as well as Mr. Ian Paton MLA,  Provincial Agriculture Critic all echo the concern that Agriculture and Food Security has become highly unimportant to those in elected positions. Pam Alexis, MLA and Minister of Agriculture and Food significantly reduced the opportunity for Mr. Paton to bring forward the multiple concerns of Farmers and Allied Services at Committee several months back. Ms. Alexis stated that Farmers primary concern is “Climate Change”

The Citizen article dated June 20, 2024 headlines on page A23, “ALR just 5% of land” This is BCs only secure farmland designated by the original designers of the ALR Commission The ALC became law in 1973 and without it BC would likely have no farmland left in production. Food security is compromised in BC. Mr. Bailey’s plea to the Bureaucrats and Directors of the CVRD to “ensure the land continues to be used for growing food” should not to be taken lightly.

Landkeepers have been actively working to discover the truth about an agreement made between the CVRD and “Stakeholders, “Nature’s Trust and Ducks Unlimited” to destroy 170 acres of farmland on the Cowichan Bay Estuary. The first phase of the project saw the dikes surrounding 45 acres of the farm flattened by Nature’s Trust and Ducks Unlimited with no apparent consultation or approval. Attempts to find proof that this was done following regulations has not succeeded. Please take a drive down Western Terminal Road and see the results for yourself. This part of the farm was designated Class! farmland, in the ALR and was highly productive. It is now an abandoned and unattractive area that upon observation supports little waterfowl and bird populations. References to the restoration plan for this land is vague. First Nations neighbours residing in the area state they have no knowledge of this being returned to Traditional Food Source in spite of press releases that state they are “On board”  Landkeepers question why the goal to restore Traditional food source has not yet been initiated on this property. 

The initiative to restore the larger portion from Class 1 sub-irrigated highly productive farmland overlooks several critical concerns. Landkeepers’ pressure supported by hundreds of local citizens and farmers resulted in Nature’s Trust engaging in the legal process to apply for the removal of the land from the ALR to remove the protective surrounding dike. It became abundantly clear through FOI reports that CVRD was aware and involved in the project in spite of their denials that are on record. Public consultation did not take place.

The sewage treatment facility on the Heritage Cowichan River dumps contaminated effluent into Cowichan Bay and has resulted in closure of the harvesting of all shellfish from the Bay for over thirty years. Dike removal and flooding over the 170-acre parcel will result in highly contaminated salt water being washed continuously over the land. Restoring this marshland to produce Traditional crops that will be available for community consumption is reckless. Sewage contaminants and toxins from wood pylons have been leaching into the bay for over a century. I have not seen any reference to addressing the contamination anywhere in the plans and proposals and the timeline as to when food production would ensure the food is safe for human consumption.

The Risk of salt water incursion into nearby source water wells in the area has been clearly proven in the Hydrology Assessment Report commissioned by Landkeepers and completed by Active Earth Engineering Ltd. Multiple other serious risks were also identified in the report. Landkeepers have offered this report to various government agencies who have shown no interest in reviewing its findings. The public is welcome to have a copy of this report.

The loss of an additional 170 acres of Class1 sub-irrigated farmland is unacceptable. Feed is grown on this land that is the highest quality available on the Island. Three local dairies rely on the crops as well as smaller local producers such as goat farmers and horse stables

Farmers will be forced to bring feed in from off Island. Canadian Farmers are already in crisis and our food security is increasingly jeopardized. The former Dinsdale Farm property in question must be preserved. Please contact  Governments at all levels and voice your support for our local farmers, Staff at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food as well as Kim Grout, CEO of the ALC. Food security is an election issue.

Ruth Waddell, Chair, Landkeepers

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