I appreciate Tilda Madsen’s invitation to dialogue when she asks why we are in favour of Sandown, but against Gateway. It’s refreshing to see a genuine interest in trying to understand an opposing point of view.
Speaking for myself, I am in favour of Sandown for a number of reasons. First, there is no net loss of ALR land. Second, it results in 83 acres of ALR land, valued in the millions of dollars, being owned by the people of North Saanich. Third, it puts farmland in the hands of people who actually want to see it farmed. Fourth, if the land is put into a covenant, it will be protected in perpetuity as farmland, contributing to the food security of future generations. Fifth, the original proposal included the provision of using 50 per cent of the commercial tax revenue for the first five years to support agriculture in North Saanich, including the rehabilitation of the property for farming. That money could also be used for agriculture infrastructure, such as a community farm market, that would benefit all area residents.
I admit that I am not keen on the loss of the 12 acres for commercial development, but in the end, I think the significant community benefit outweighs the loss. We gave a little to get a lot.
I object to Gateway because the ALC decision to exclude Class 2 ALR land for development was based on a spurious line of reasoning. Also, Gateway offers none of the other significant community benefits that Sandown does and what Gateway does offer, Sidney doesn’t really need. With Sandown’s significant community amenity as an example, one looks for something similar in the Gateway proposal but finds nothing at all.
In reference to another part of the author’s letter: yes, I will speak up when ALR land is threatened or destroyed. With drastically rising food prices, drought and climate change affecting the world’s food-producing lands and Canadian grocers reporting the worst food shortages in 30 years, we need farmland much more than we need Gateway.
Bernadette Greene, North Saanich