OUR VIEW: Fighting for farmland

Farmland protection cannot be a case of no news is good news.

If residents of Central Saanich want to help preserve farmland in their community, they are going to have to stand up and ask for it.

Even if they get their wish, there is not going to be any guarantee that they won’t have to stand up again to argue for the exact same thing.

More than 30 people in a crowd of approximately 200 did just that recently, some lamenting the fact that they’ve done this all before.

That’s simply the nature of municipal and regional politics. A council or regional body can make a decision — yet after another election cycle it’s altogether possible for the issue to be raised again, debate re-opened and proposal reconsidered.

That’s the system for you, and it’s participatory.

Central Saanich residents find themselves arguing familiar points in the face of proposed future growth areas in the Keating X Road area.

Some of the land being looked at for potential commercial, industrial or residential growth has been farmed. Yet, it does not fall within the protective cover of the Agricultural Land Reserve. Conceivably, once their owners decide to retire, they could sell off the land — without any guarantee the new owners will continue to farm it. Any changes to land use would then go before local and regional politicians for a decision.

The only thing preventing (or facilitating) the politicians’ wishes is people’s attention and action. And they are standing up now to make their feelings known.

Most people at the recent meeting want to see the future growth areas go away — but what is being proposed to ensure the matter holds off for longer than a single term of office?

Oppose the FGAs all you like, but don’t forget the follow up once they’re gone. Farmland protection cannot be a case of no news is good news.