Two Saaniches to talk agriculture

Central Saanich and the District of Saanich to meet on drainage and other mutual agricultural issues.

Central Saanich Councillor Niall Paltiel and Saanich Councillor Susan Brice are bringing forward a council-to-council meeting between Central Saanich and Saanich to discuss agricultural issues.

Sparked by Central Saanich councillor Niall Paltiel and Saanich Councillor Susan Brice, the public will have an opportunity to hear many agricultural issues shared between the two municipalities.

With many comments from direct discussions with farmers and the agriculture community on the Peninsula, Paltiel said there’s an urgent need to address drainage and other issues.

“It was also understood that some of those drainage issues are not just unique or under the control of Central Saanich,” he said. “There are things that could be coordinated between the two municipalities.”

After sitting down periodically to discuss mutual concerns, Paltiel and Brice decided agricultural issues were something important between both councils.

Brice said Saanich has had joint meetings with the City of Victoria in the past but have not had a meeting with Central Saanich.

“We thought that even though each municipality is currently doing good work with the agricultural community, that surely there must be common issues and that it would be valuable for them to bring our councils together and have a common base of information and common cause,” she said.

Some of the topics of discussion will be drainage, goose and deer management and more.

“For me the most important one is drainage,” said Paltiel, “because right now there’s the border between Central Saanich and Saanich in the Martindale Valley. On Dooley Road there’s our ditching that goes through, it’s called the McHugh Ditch. It runs into a property on Saanich’s side on a private property and then it becomes a stream.”

He added the stream can create a bottleneck. The District can dig out their ditch but when that bottleneck is there, he said, it can create that flooding people can see on the side of Highway 17 (Pat Bay).

For Brice, an important topic is the protection of farmland.

“First and foremost for me is always the protection of farmland and our recognition that it is such an incredibly valuable resource in the region,” she said, adding there will always be development pressures and pressures for other uses on agricultural land.

“I think that we can be a combined voice to the rest of the region highlighting what Saanich and Central Saanich bring to the livability of the region.”

Paltiel said that although there are a number of solutions to the issue, it’s been talked about for many years with the problems getting worse. He said the municipalities need to start deliberating on some real solutions that are going to make farming more viable.

The District of Central Saanich has directed staff to invite the Peninsula and Area Agricultural Commission and the Healthy Watershed Committee to make a presentation at the meeting to discuss common issues and interests around agriculture.