In the City of Richmond, British Columbia, where the most arable soils in Canada are supposedly protected under the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), City Council continues to allow speculators to build houses of over 10,000 square feet on agricultural land over half an acre in size.
These mansions become exclusive gated estates, avoiding the foreign buyers tax, and are now trading at prices no farmer can afford. Delta is no better, using fertile arable land for a truck parking lot next to Highway 17, fast-tracking a casino next to the Fraser River, and using ALR lands as their industrial land piggy bank.
But it’s not just in British Columbia where politicians are fraying away agricultural land for their own in-the-moment development purposes.
The trend is catching on in Toronto, with the candidacy of Doug Ford, the Conservative hopeful for Ontario Premier, who is going to “open up a big chunk of the Toronto greenbelt” to lower the cost of housing. Apparently, Ford has “already talked to some of the biggest developers in this country” who have said “give us property, we will build, and we will drive the cost of housing down.”
Under the rubric of creating affordable housing, the easiest victim to sacrifice is the promise of food security for future generations. And once again, agricultural land to which we have attached so little dollar value has become more precious as a developed asset for other uses.
How can we attach so little worth in food security and in keeping farmland in production? What will future generations say about our lack of stewardship for not protecting green space and farming land close to major cities? What does that say about our priorities as a culture?
Photos: BlogTO.com & Toronto Star