On March 7 Central Saanich council paved the road to rezoning Class 2 agricultural land to allow Peninsula Co-op to build a very large commercial development on it.
Alarmingly, only six per cent of Canada’s land is suitable for farming. Class 1 farmland refers to land that can grow any kind of crop. Of the six per cent farmable land in Canada, only half of one percent is Class 1. Once developed commercially, farmland is permanently lost. Between 1971 and 2001 more than 14,000 sq km of Canada’s best agricultural land has been permanently lost to urban uses. Today almost half of Canada’s urban land is sitting on arable farmland.
The Peninsula Co-op’s plan is to build on Class 2 land, very good for vegetable crops. Arguably the only people who will really benefit from this are the developers. For the citizens of Central Saanich the development will no doubt mean increased taxes, increased traffic in an already dangerous and congested corner, greater travel distance for members to the food store for a large residential area (Tanner Ridge), greater pollution, and another blow to the already commercially zoned but struggling Keating area.
Worst of all is paving land which can grow food. There will come a time when paving food land will be a crime. There is something wrong with our country and our laws if we cannot protect land where food can grow, or the farmers who put food on our tables.
The Peninsula Co-op could do itself a lot of good by “giving back” not money, but the land. Now that will really be a cooperation act.