Agricultural land must be preserved

Presently I enjoy walking to the local market on Tuesday or to my local fruit, berry, vegetable and egg supplier at the edge of town.

Dear Editor:

With regard to the article, Growth Options Shown, and your editorial, A land use tradeoff, on June 6 in the Summerland Review, the suggestion that lands be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve for development purposes continues the longstanding debate as to whether our society truly values our own capacity to grow food locally.

Despite the federal government’s Orwellian redefinition of the term “local” in regard to agricultural production, I consider my “local” to be within the Okanagan region and preferably within my own town.

Presently I enjoy walking to the local market on Tuesday or to my local fruit, berry, vegetable and egg supplier at the edge of town.

Many Summerland residents do the same.

Your editorial suggests that removing hectares from the ALR “would be met with resistance from some within the agricultural community.”

What this comment highlights is a strong disconnect in thinking about our relation to the land and food production.

If you eat fruit, vegetables, meat or fowl you are a part of the agricultural community if only as an end user, rather than producer or middle supplier.

The question has been voiced in the media recently that if our external food supply is lessened or becomes too expensive (i.e. from California or Mexico) do we have the capacity to produce food more locally?

While some people find this question poses an unlikely scenario, I will remind them that droughts in Russia, China, Africa, Mexico, Midwest U.S.A. and California have all affected food production, supply and cost in recent years.

Weather affects everyone, and we may have to grow more food locally in order to respond to effects of global climate change.

That there are portions of land close to town within the ALR which have not been farmed for decades is not reason to change the zoning of those lands.

Unused or fallow lands are an expression of the owners’ financial capacity to own land without farming it, not of the land’s viability or capacity to produce.

I realize that many owners of lands within the ALR resent the rules which do not permit them to subdivide and develop as they wish.

There are always development rules with any piece of property, many restrictions regarding housing density, height, square footage, type, style, and quality of construction.

In the case of the ALR, the rules protect the land from overdevelopment.

Place housing developments elsewhere.

Heather S. Ross

Summerland