26 June 2020
Provincial Agricultural Land Commission
Hon. Lana Popham
Minister of Agriculture
Hi! I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe or recovering well.
My name is Allegra Sloman and I’m a science fiction writer, musician and blogger/essayist, living on Coast Salish land in Burnaby. I believe that fertile, well-watered land that is put aside by the Province of B.C. for agricultural purposes should stay that way.
Earlier this month I learned from Cedar Isle Farms that a small chunk of land in Agassiz, (the ‘Teacup Properties’,) which has been earmarked for residential growth for almost twenty years, may be removed from the ALR, since there is tremendous housing pressure on the entire lower mainland. This is in part thanks to the naïve / corrupt succession of provincial governments, which, ably assisted by the Harper Government and the absence of any credible federal investigative oversight, enabled a multi-billion dollar property bubble to develop hereabouts. Of course there are many, less provocative, reasons why building-lot land is scarce and expensive in Agassiz and why the city government would want more of it.
In 1948, Agassiz, indeed the very part of Agassiz which concerns us today, was underwater for a month, during what is referred to as a ‘century’ flood of the Fraser River.
If residential land is flooded, especially for that period of time, all the houses must be razed or remediated at extortionate cost. If farmland is flooded, next spring you plant again. Farming is the appropriate use for this land, if we’re using a risk/reward model.
Given the climate instability staring us all in the face, is it possible that anyone charged with making the decision to build on this land may be subject to legal action for knowingly allowing residential or business construction? We can expect that ‘century flood’ any year now. It is a reasonable thing to both foresee and wish to mitigate.
Was the permission of the local Sts’ailes people to change the use of the land from reserved to development asked?
Until these and other questions around food scarcity and sovereignty are answered, I believe that changing the land use is unwise.