Save the Blenkinsop Valley!

save-blenkinsop-valley

Stop the industrialization of the Blenkinsop Valley!

Demand that Saanich municipality enforce its own bylaws

The Blenkinsop Valley, a jewel in the heart of Saanich, is in real danger. The area from Mackenzie Avenue to Miramar Drive, centred on Blenkinsop Road, is officially protected primarily for agriculture. These rich farmlands were first preserved from urban development in 1973, when BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve was created.

In 1977, the District of Saanich – recognizing that the valley has “irreplaceable value to the future well being and self sufficiency of the Capital Region” – took a further step and made it an area primarily for agriculture.

But this precious valley is threatened. A number of sites have become little more than parking lots for trucks and other heavy vehicles. By compacting the soil and dropping oil and other pollutants, they’re increasingly making it impossible ever to farm the land.

Another problem is that heavy trucks exceeding the legal weight limit on Blenkinsop Road are turning it into a commercial thoroughfare.

When it adopted the Blenkinsop Local Area Plan in 2008 and made the valley part of the Saanich Official Community Plan, Saanich Council wrote of the “unique character of the valley,” and called for everyone “to behave in a manner that shows respect for farm activities, livestock and the wild plants and animals that share the valley’s fields, trails and roadways.”

Nice words. But Saanich Council isn’t walking the talk. It’s failing to monitor and halt the misuse of Blenkinsop Valley, practices that violate the district’s own standards.

We need action to prevent the Blenkinsop Valley from becoming a parking lot.

Can you help? Tell Saanich Council to properly monitor actual land use in the valley, stop the numerous violations of business licences, put a halt to the illegal heavy truck traffic and keep Blenkinsop Valley for agriculture and rural uses.

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell states that one of his “four guiding principles” is to “protect agriculture and the environment.” Please contact him to urge him to act on his principles. His office phone number is 250-475-1775 ext. 5510, and his email address is mayor@saanich.ca.

Other members of the Saanich Council can be contacted at council@saanich.ca.

And sign the Farmland Protection Coalition’s petition at www.victoriavoice.ca/save_the_blenkinsop_valley.


SPONSORED BY THE FARMLAND PROTECTION COALITION
www.farmlandprotection.ca/

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Sign the Petition!

We, the undersigned, call on the District of Saanich Mayor, Council and Administration to enforce existing municipal bylaws and reverse the creeping industrialization of Saanich’s agricultural heartland – the Blenkinsop Valley – by:

(1) imposing fines against property owners for non-permitted uses of farmland – such as the storage of commercial vehicles; and

(2) enforcing regulations relating to commercial transport vehicles on Blenkinsop Road; and

(3) restricting the removal of soils and other activities that are inconsistent with safeguarding the agricultural productivity of the Blenkinsop Valley in perpetuity.

Please mail or drop off petitions at Madrona Farm c/o Nathalie Chambers, 4317 Blenkinsop Road, Victoria, BC  V8X 2C3


Fact Sheet on Saanich’s Blenkinsop Valley (PDF)
Print the Petition (PDF)

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Fact Sheet on Saanich’s Blenkinsop Valley:
“A Rural Space in an Urban Place”

 

WHAT IS THE BLENKINSOP VALLEY?

  • The Blenkinsop Valley is located in the District of Saanich, Greater Victoria, in the traditional territory of the WSANEC and Lekwammen Nations.
  • This is a culturally significant area with abundant wildlife, high terrestrial bird diversity and some of the best and most fertile farmland in Canada.
  • Much of the Blenkinsop Valley is located within the Agricultural Land Reserve, provincial legislation to preserve the landbase for the purpose of food production and restrict other uses.
  • Provincial legislated protection is supplemented by District of Saanich municipal zoning bylaws, planning policy and motor-vehicle regulations (see details below), which recognize “rural and agricultural uses” in the Blenkinsop Valley.

 

WHAT IS GOING ON NOW?

  • Saanich Council is failing to monitor, fine and address the industrialization and non-permitted uses in the A-1 zone, which is responsible for the degradation, compaction, and pollution of soils and water ways. Some residents are also paying farm tax rates on lands with non-permitted uses.
  • Trucks over 4500 Lbs. are not permitted to park on A-1 zoned lands in the Blenkinsop Valley, but Saanich is failing to monitor land use and business licences, resulting in a proliferation of non-permitted parking lots (at last count, there were at least 9 in the valley). The longer these non-permitted parking lots are not addressed, the greater the damage to farmland soils, and the more difficult it becomes to restore the land to permitted agricultural use.
  • There is also a growing phenomenon of large commercial trucks passing through the valley, notwithstanding a 12,000 kg vehicle weight restriction on Blenkinsop Road. Saanich is failing to monitor and enforce industrial vehicle use, leading to degradation of the roadway and conflict with farming and rural uses in the valley.

 

Background Material: District of Saanich Zoning and Planning Policy

In 1977, the District of Saanich adopted a resolution defining the Blenkinsop Valley area and committing to rural and agricultural uses in perpetuity. Council acknowledged that the “significant acreage of agricultural use and potential, was deemed to be of irreplaceable value to the future well being and self sufficiency of the Capital Region” and that “agricultural uses and pastoral pursuits which have preserved the peculiar charm of the Valley are threatened with extinction through the intrusion of urban and extraneous uses of land and other operations.”

 

Saanich’s Official Community Plan Bylaw, unanimously adopted by Council in 2008, includes the Blenkinsop Local Area Plan, which states:

“The Blenkinsop Valley is a cherished rural and natural community in the Municipality of Saanich. The residents’ commitment to the valley is evident in their continuing use of the land for farming and for other rural activities, and in their desire to preserve the remaining natural environment. The Municipality of Saanich actively supports the rural nature of the valley. Saanich works in partnership with other jurisdictions and authorities to ensure that residents of Greater Victoria and visitors to the Region enjoy the benefits of a rural space in an urban place. Visitors, and those who pass through, understand the unique character of the valley. They accept their responsibility to behave in a manner that shows respect for farm activities, livestock and the wild plants and animals that share the valley’s fields, trails and roadways.”

 

The Blenkinsop Local Area Plan includes the following policies:

4.0 Urban Containment – Policies

  • 4.1 Do not support further amendments to the Urban Containment Boundary in Blenkinsop.

 

5.0 Agriculture – Policies

  • 5.1 Do not forward applications to the Land Reserve Commission to exclude land from the Agricultural Land Reserve.
  • 5.2 Refer to General Plan 1993, policy 5.3, when considering applications to subdivide within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
  • 5.3 Do not support Agricultural Land Reserve applications or rezoning to permit new nonagricultural uses such as golf courses and/or institutional uses that generate significant traffic.
  • 5.4 Undertake a process to develop appropriate regulations and guidelines for agri-tourism activities in consultation with peninsula municipalities and other stakeholders (see policy 8.2).
  • 5.5 Continue to regulate the retailing of agricultural products that are not grown on-site.
  • 5.6 Consider amending the Official Community Plan Appendix N – Development Permit Area Justification and Guidelines to designate a new Development Permit Area for the protection of farming.
  • 5.7 Support improvements to water service where necessary to ensure a viable water supply to agricultural operations.
  • 5.8 (a) Support managed irrigation from Blenkinsop Lake to balance agricultural, environmental and aesthetic interests.
  • (b) Undertake a process to reduce water licences on Blenkinsop Lake having regard for the potential impact on agriculture.
  • 5.9 Plant hedgerows or install appropriate fencing within trail rights-of-way to address concerns about public access to adjacent agricultural land and monitor their effectiveness.
  • 5.10 Continue to support education programs to increase public understanding of the scarcity of agricultural land, the long term impacts of the loss of food production, the importance of the soil and climate for agriculture, and the hazards associated with farming.
  • 5.11 Support efforts to improve the relationship and understanding between the various users and interest groups in the Blenkinsop Valley about the need to co-exist.
  • 5.12 Work with farmers and other land owners to encourage best farm practises, reduce the use of pesticides and other chemicals that have the potential to harm the environment, buffer, restore, and protect watercourses and maintain and enhance other significant habitat on agricultural parcels, while maintaining the economic value of the agricultural resource and respecting the farmers’ right-to-farm.
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Site C Dam Events/Victoria Airport ALR Exclusion/Bullock&Steves On ALR

Help keep up the pressure!  Site C Dam is the BIGGEST threat to agriculture and ALR lands in BC!

Watch and SHARE this Amnesty International video and sign their petition!

Events:  
Wed. March 9 7PM
First Metropolitan United Church,
932 Balmoral Rd., Victoria
FB Victoria event page
Presenters:  Julian Napoleon of Saulteau First Nation, Ana Simeon of Sierra Club BC, Susan Smitten of RAVEN Trust, and Steve Gray of KAIROS BC-Yukon.

Tues. March 29 7PM
UBC First Peoples’ House,
Vancouver, BC
FB Vancouver event page

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Sidney BC, the Victoria Airport Authority was successful in its exclusion application for over 10 acres to build an unwanted mall!

Sadly an exclusion application for 4.4 hectares  (10.9 acres) ALR land of Class 2 soil (the 2nd best soil in all of BC!) was granted by the ALC Island Regional Panel on Jan. 11, 2016. A group of citizens have joined together and filed a formalRequest for a Reconsideration. They feel the decision was not supported by the evidence the Vancouver Island Panel should have been considering. The ALR land of Class 2 soil is extremely well suited to all farming and currently is being farmed. A complicating factor is that ALC Chair Frank Leonard is also a Director with the Victoria Airport Authority that made the exclusion application.  Normally the ALC Chair would be a part of the Reconsideration process, but he can not involve himself in this application..

Many people in the community are not supportive of the proposed large retail mall on farmland.  Sidney is home too many well-loved small independent businesses, some already suffering from too much competition, a few already leaving behind vacant storefronts. Sidney is also a growing community and will be needing more farmland to prodice more local food not less
For info. contact: :Bernadette Greene bernadettegreene@shaw.ca
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Our “Future of Farmland and the ALR in BC” speakers series with Richard Bullock, past ALC Chair and Harold Steves, considered the ‘father of the ALR‘ was a big success. We even managed to film and edit down one of the very informative evenings and we have that 1 hour online HERE.

Also available below the hour long video are 2 short very popular excerpts:
Harold Steves on Site C Dam
Richard Bullock on why he was fired by the BC Liberal government.. .  

PS It was great to see old friends and meet new people at these events. We are incredibly grateful to both Richard Bullock and Harold Steves for taking the time out of their very busy lives and farming to come to Greater Victoria for 3 days to do these event! So please watch and enjoy. If you are interested in having either of them come to your community, contact us and we might be able to help arrange that. .

Farmland Protection Coalition,
Cheryl McLachlan co-chair

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OPPOSE excluding 1/2 Langford’s ALR lands!

The City of Langford will be holding a Public Hearing Tues, Sept. 8th, 7pm, 3rd floor, Langford City Hall, 877 Goldstream Ave., Langford BC, V9B 2X8 proposing to exclude 1/2 of all the ALR lands in Langford!!! 

Take ACTION: OPPOSE this massive block exclusion by speaking and/or emailing your submission to planning@cityoflangford.ca

You must give your full name, address and state you are opposed in your submission. You do NOT need to be a resident of Langford to make a submission, ALR lands are a provincial issue, anyone can make a submission.

We will be following this massive exclusion application as the Agricultural Land Commission Island Panel considers it. We at FPC would appreciate it if supporters also sent their submissions to us: farmlandprotectionbc@gmail.com allowing us to confirm all the submissions we are aware of were received by the ALC. 

Check out this article for the full story on the illogical plan to ‘help’ local agricultural production by permanently removing 1/2 of the current ALR lands in Langford.

Farmland is not only valuable when it is in production, it is valuable because it could be farmed in the future. Check out this Langford Zoning Designations map with the very small area of ALR lands that make up the Agricultural Zones.  And here is a subsection of Langford showing in detail the current Langford ALR lands, half of which would be excluded under this proposal and be built upon, and lost forever. 

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Richard Bullock, Chair of BC’s ALC fired!

It is spring, heading into a summer, the busiest season in farming, and yet again events affecting BC farmland are happening. It is no coincidence that just before the Victoria Day long weekend, the BC Liberal government acted, making media coverage very slim of Richard Bullock, Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) being fired before his term was up without due cause.

CBC Radio did two very illuminating interviews with Richard Bullock since his termination:

  • The CBC Daybreak Kelowna interview, “’They screwed this organization badly,’ says former ALC chair Richard Bullock.”
  • The BC Almanac (Vancouver) interview, which brings out Richard Bullock’s view of the B.C. Cabinet’s removal of a vast area of Peace River ALR farmland for Site C dam as “a sin against humanity.”

Richard Bullock, in spite of a toxic political environment, was and continues to be, a powerful voice for protecting OUR farmlands throughout BC! Let’s continue to thank him and show our continuing SUPPORT bsigning the Thank You Richard Bullock card so you too can help his resolve to continue to speak out for the ALR as new threats arise. As you sign, be aware that Mr. Bullock is attentive to every name and location and comment included on the card.

Changes, in the form of the new regulations are coming soon, from Bill 24, the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act. Farmland defenders do not expect those changes to be positive.  The new government regulations are expected to approve of nonfarming activities, even those in direct opposition to farming, will be allowed on ALR lands, especially those lands that are the majority of the ALR now contained in the new large more northerly Zone 2. The timing of the removal of Richard Bullock as ALC Chair was probably intended to silence him on the upcoming new regulations. And the ALC was kept silent and unconsulted on the vast removal of ALR lands for the now approved Site C dam. These actions, and many others, have shown just how directed the attacks are on the ALR and agriculture in BC.

STAY TUNED, we know that more changes are coming!

We will not be silent and we will fight, along side Richard Bullock, and other outspoken farmland defenders, to preserve OUR FARMLAND for NOW and for future generations!

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New Summerland council kills land swap proposal

The new town council in Summerland has voted to reverse a proposal that would have resulted in a substantial loss of farmland in the community.

The new town council in Summerland has voted to reverse a proposal that would have resulted in a substantial loss of farmland in the community.


By Angela Jung, Global News, December 9, 2014

SUMMERLAND, B.C. — It’s been a contentious issue in Summerland this past year and after much outcry, the town’s newly elected council has killed the controversial land swap proposal at the first council meeting Monday night. The proposal, which was adopted by the previous council, would’ve seen 80 hectares of farmland taken out of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), while 90 hectares of land from the Summerland hills area would have been added to the ALR instead.

In a 5-1 vote (councilor Erin Carlson did not vote because her family’s property would’ve been affected), council has decided to withdraw its application to taken land out of the ALR.

In a 6-1 vote (council Carlson was able to vote), council has also decided to withdraw its application to add land into the ALR.

Councilor Janet Peake voted against the both motions.

Mayor Peter Waterman says this move pivotal for the town.

“It means the community will be heading in a direction that they actually expressed they want to go, which is to retain the urban-rural aesthetics of Summerland,” says Waterman.

The land swap proposal was part of the town’s Official Community Plan.

Council voted unanimously to revisit the plan.

Public workshops will be held in the new year to find out how residents want to stimulate growth.

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Do not blink: Consultation on changes to the ALR/farmland ends Aug. 22nd!

At the height of growing season for farmers, and when many BCers are away on holidays, off camping, and generally taking a break from their daily lives, the BC government has quietly announced limited public consultation. The consultation on Bill 24 amending the ALC Act that protects some of the farmland in BC held in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is web based and will end on Aug. 22. It is imperative those concerned about farmland and accessible locally sourced food have their voices heard in this consultation!

Welcome to the engagement site. The purpose of this site is to provide an opportunity for you to learn more about the potential changes to the Agricultural Land Commission Act and to provide input on regulation development.
Specifically:
- Some proposed additional activities that could be allowed on farmland in the Agricultural Land Reserve without a requirement to make an application to the Agricultural Land Commission;
- Whether and to what extent these allowable uses should vary between different regions of the province, and;
-m What parameters should be put around proposed new uses.
The online survey will be open for one month, starting July 22nd and closing at noon on August 22nd.
Have a read of the July, 2014 Consultation Paper and then please provide input.

You can go to HERE for the BC government consultation website.

The Tyee has a good article on the current consultation HERE that includes some background info. on Bill 24 and the role and history of the Agricultural Land Reserve protecting some of BC’s farmland.

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Contacting North Saanich Council to protect agricultural and rural land

Dear North Saanich Resident,

We are happy to provide you with more information about the upcoming Public Hearing on the Regional Context Statement (RCS) Amendment and two rezoning applications (and related matters) to be held on Monday July 14th at 7:00 pm at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney. You will find the official notice at the bottom of this message; double-click on the image if you’d like to read it.

This is our last chance to have our voices heard on the proposed Official Community Plan (OCP) changes which would allow for urban densities in NS. We strongly urge all NS residents to come out to this Public Hearing and express your opinion on the proposal to allow:

  • up to 520 new housing units (that’s adding 10% of the total number of NS households) in the next five years
  • an increase in construction in NS from an average 45 units/year to 160 units/year
  • average densities proposed in the two areas (totaling about 180 acres) will be 8 to 16 units per acre, but densities could be as high as 30 units/acre

Council has indicated that they will vote on this drastic change to our community’s direction that night, so it is crucial that all NS residents participate in this democratic process.

  (more…)

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Major Rezoning Hearing to be Held in North Saanich

To Farmland Protection Coalition supporters,

With the passage of changes to provincial legislation governing agricultural lands, it is more important than ever that we act together to implement local solutions for the protection of agricultural and rural lands. Municipal zoning bylaws and Official Community Plans are important mechanisms for preventing urban sprawl.

Please read and act upon the message below from North Saanich residents and supporters regarding an opportunity to prevent sprawl in that rural community.

Thank you,

THE FARMLAND PROTECTION COALITION

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MAJOR REZONING HEARING TO BE HELD IN NORTH SAANICH

The District of North Saanich Council has scheduled a major Public Hearing at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 14th at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney. You can read more about this on the municipality’s home page.

http://www.northsaanich.ca/Welcome_to_North_Saanich.htm

The meeting is to consider the proposed re-zoning of a number of separate parcels of land in North Saanich, which would lead to urban sprawl. See the link below.

Urban sprawl in North Saanich, BC

Urban sprawl in North Saanich, BC

The areas for higher density are about 180 acres. This will not only change the neighbourhood but also the nature of the whole municipality. This rezoning clearly violates our current Official Community Plan (OCP), which took several years to complete and made the wishes of North Saanich residents very clear: “Retain the present rural, agricultural and marine character of the community.”

Our major concern is that the agricultural and rural nature of this beautiful District is gradually being eroded by high densities.

One of these has been the development at 9395 East Saanich Road, with more than 40 houses and suites on a property of less than four acres, which is nearing completion. Adjacent to this there is another development proposal of 95 houses + suites. There are 520 new housing units planned, which would result in higher taxes, increased traffic, air pollution and a diminished quality of life.

Is higher-density housing, like this, appropriate for North Saanich?

We strongly believe that any major land use decisions should only be made after a full Official Community Plan review. Let us not continue violating our OCP.

If you share these concerns, please join us on Monday, July 14th 7 p.m. at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney and voice your concern. This may be the last opportunity to save what we value and love about North Saanich.

Thank you,

Friends of North Saanich

Tamara Sears
Nathalie Chambers
Gwen Greenwood
Hans Edwards
Marguerite Tulett
Hildegard Horie

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Last chance – complete email demanding STOP Bill 24 and next steps

Tell the BC Liberal MLAs you do NOT consider the DEBATE OVER on Bill 24, the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act. Today, Thurs. May 29th, the BC Liberals, just after 5 pm, will end debate and force a vote.

Action: Complete a new West Coast Environmental Law email form and tell BC Liberal MLAs, Opposition Agriculture Critic Nicolas Simons and your MLA you support continuing the debate, and you want the MLAs to VOTE DOWN Bill 24!

SHARE this ACTION with 2 friends RIGHT NOW!!

And today, note this important date: Tuesday, May 9, 2017 VOTE in the next BC provincial election.

And win or lose, this battle against Bill 24 has shown us that we need MORE STRATEGIES to SAVE OUR FARMLAND beyond the ALR.

If we really want to preserve and expand our local farmland base and create real local food security and increase local food production we need to make local food and farmland a huge issue in the upcoming BC local government elections on Sat. November 15th. If we want to ‘Go Local’ in where we shop, where we produce our food, we must ‘Go Local’ in our political engagement and VOTE and be involved in our local governments. Voter turnout in 2011 local elections province wide in BC was on average about 30% whereas in the last 2009 provincial election just over 50% and in the last federal election in 2011 just over 60% of eligible voters cast a ballot.

We need a variety of strategies to protect farmland that could include our local and municipal governments creating zoning and bylaws that could serve functions similar to the restricted land use zoning the ALR has historically used to protect some of the best farmland in BC. Another possible strategy is leveraging public and/or private capital to buy farmland and protect it through community ownership in partnership with local governments and/or farmland trusts.

Who will serve on your local government council is becoming increasingly relevant in the battle to protect and increase our farmland so remember to VOTE LOCALLY on Sat. November 15th.

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Help Stop Bill 24 as Debate Begins

The fight to SAVE the ALR continues! Although Bill 24 has been stalled at 2nd reading since Mar. 27th and the legislature is to sit for only 4 more days ending May 29th, the debate on Bill 24 is scheduled to begin on Monday, May 26th. In partnership with West Coast Environmental Law Society and Garden City Conservation Society we ask you to take action one more time!

Debate on amendments could refer Bill 24 back for public consultation, have Bill 24 delayed, or withdrawn. You can tell Premier Christy Clark and the Liberal MLAs to listen to the many BC citizens that are DEMANDING TO BE HEARD that do not want Bill 24! You can quickly and easily use the email form and take ACTION. The West Coast Environmental Law Society email form will create a summary of how many people have sent emails. That information will be shared with MLAs and be an important part of the debate on Bill 24 next week!

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