How exciting it is to see young people returning to Summerland to work in agriculture-related fields.
They have gone to the cities, received their educations and returned home to establish a lifestyle that only Summerland has to offer.
They have fresh new ideas and are the future of farming in our community.
However, if these young folks are to continue working in agriculture, they will need good quality farm land on which to grow crops.
Food security is becoming not just a philosophical ideal but a conversation topic of relevance that should be included in any discussion about planning for the future of Summerland.
The Agricultural Land Reserve was created to preserve farm land and provide food security for future generations. At present, less than five per cent of the land in this province is protected by the ALR and approximately two per cent is actually available for growing crops. (In B.C., we will need to increase food production by 30 per cent by 2025 if we are to maintain our present level of 48 per cent food self-sufficiency with projected population growth, yet we continue to take quality farm land out of the ALR.)
The land trade suggested by council to the Agricultural Land Commission seeks to trade optimum farm land between Quinpool and Blair to the height of land behind Blair for land suitable for grazing in West Prairie Valley.
In the 2011 Climate Action Plan, council would consider the trading of this land only if the downtown core had densified.
Why are we now in such a hurry to take this land, with good soil, great sun exposure, solid frost-free days and easy access to water, out of the ALR when we haven’t intensified the amenities and housing capabilities of the downtown core?
I know we are trying to think ahead and I applaud council for this, but are we really thinking ahead?
With two per cent of the province’s arable land remaining in the ALR, why would we sacrifice premium farm land for anticipated growth in the short term rather than considering the long-term needs of future generations?
Whose interests are we really considering?
The ALR is a hot topic in the province right now. As we plan for the future, we need to include our young farmers’ voices in the discussions.
Summerland could very well lead the way in providing a model for sustainable development and food security for generations to come.