A commission promoting agriculture has called on Central Saanich to revive that municipality’s agricultural advisory committee. (Black Press Media File)

Peninsula and Area Agricultural Commission criticizes Central Saanich over committee demise

PAAC also calls on municipality to revive ag committee disbanded earlier

An advisory committee for agriculture in Greater Victoria is calling on Central Saanich to revive that municipality’s agricultural advisory committee.

Central Saanich council earlier last month adopted a new bylaw consolidating various committees, a move that led to the demise of the agricultural advisory committee, a decision questioned by the Peninsula and Area Agricultural Commission (PAAC).

Meeting last month, PAAC’s board passed a motion to express its “disappointment” about the dissolution of the committee, while “requesting that it be reinstated because it provided a voice for local farmers and feedback to PAAC.”

The request has an ironic note, as Central Saanich plans to draw on the expertise of PAAC, when it comes to dealing with agricultural issues.

RELATED: LETTERS: Central Saanich a leading advocate for agriculture

Central Saanich is expected to consider the letter at its next council meeting.

The decision to disband the committee drew sharp reactions from former Central Saanich mayor Jack Mar, who has also been a prominent local farmer. He said earlier that the decision to disband the committee confirms in his mind that the majority of current Central Saanich councillors are only “paying lip-service” to agricultural issues.

“They don’t have a clue about agriculture,” said Mar. “They don’t support agriculture, period. That is why they are doing it.”

This drew a sharp response from Coun. Christopher Graham, who said in a letter that disbanding the committee would avoid duplication, making better use of staff resources.

The letter also argued that the move would create greater accountability and transparency and that “several of these [committee] members were active in discussions that could be seen as producing recommendations that could potentially benefit their own farms.”

“Moving items to PAAC instead helps reduce the risk of perceived conflict of interest, allows us to take advantage of both regional and provincial expertise, and avoids duplication of work, so that we can more effectively use our limited resources,” he said later.

He also questioned Mar’s larger point that Central Saanich was abandoning agriculture. “Central Saanich is a leader in agricultural advocacy not only in the region, but also in the province,” said Graham, in a pointing to a number of discussions between the municipality and the province.

Graham said council “is very aware of the importance of agriculture” and dedicates much of council and staff resources to protecting farmland from urban development, while promoting and encouraging farming. Graham’s letter noted that 60 per cent of Central Saanich is in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and approximately another 20 per cent is rural with agriculture as a primary permitted use.

According to its stated mandate, PAAC “is an advisory committee whose mandate is to advise the [municipalities] of Central Saanich, Metchosin, North Saanich, Saanich, Sidney and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area on matters involving agriculture, and, to facilitate the development of programs for implementation of the Saanich Peninsula Agricultural Strategy objectives and keep the [municipalities] advised of these programs.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Spring shift in service includes no weekend late night bus services in Greater Victoria

Annual shift into spring sees additional decrease in frequency on multiple routes

No more ferries will sail from Departure Bay, Mill Bay, Brentwood Bay during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Ferries announces major changes to sailing schedules for 60 days starting Saturday, April 4

Greater Victoria liquor stores see spike in sales amidst COVID-19

Customers are buying go-to products in larger quantities

‘Small python’ found in vacant Cook Street apartment

Snake taken to CRD Animal Shelter to be claimed

Esquimalt’s Buccaneer Days cancelled due to COVID-19

The pirate-themed fair will take place in 2021

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

53 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., four new deaths

B.C. has 498 active confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus

Nanaimo man arrested after allegedly setting house fire

Firefighters arrived to find mobile home ablaze on Barnes Road in Cedar on Thursday

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Dogs are property, not kids, B.C. judge tells former couple

Court decision made on competing lawsuits over Zeus and Aurora — a pit bull and pit bull cross

B.C. senior gives blood for 200th time, has ‘saved’ 600 lives

There was no cutting of cake for Harvey Rempel but he’s challenging youth to start donating blood

Most Read