Surrey mayor asked city staff to assess all its agricultural food-producing land to better preserve it, especially some currently designated industrial land. But not everyone is happy, calling it a political ploy.
by Andrew Joseph, Farms.com; Image via Google
Ask and ye shall receive.
Because food security is a global concern, Surrey, British Columbia Mayor Doug McCallum had asked that city staff make an assessment of all the local area food-producing property in order to preserve it to ensure it, and Canada, are better able to meet future food security concerns.
The city council officially passed his motion on Monday, July 11, 2022.
McCallum said that protection of the city’s high-yield farmland is key to ensuring food security in Surrey.
Along with his motion, McCallum also moved that the 220 acres of “exceptionally fertile” farmland at 192 Street and 36 Avenue be designated as agricultural, to be a component of the 2023 Official Community Plan review. See image above for a Google-view of the land.
The mayor also wanted Surrey to work with both the Federal and Provincial governments to bringing these 220 acres of land into the Agricultural Land Reserve—it passed.
Surrey is unable to place this land into the Agricultural Land Reserve because it can only be done so with the owner’s consent—the land is federally-owned.
The 220 acres is considered valuable—it is the first root crop vegetable to grow and supply western Canada.
If Surrey had thoughts to purchase the land for itself—unh-uh. After the Federal government, next in line comes the First Nations, then the Province of British Columbia, and the Surrey.
At least Surrey has the right to work on zoning to protect the farmland, and McCallum’s query and positive response by City Council has allowed to to proceed in that direction.
With the passing of the motion, Surrey wants to work alongside the Federal Government of Canada and the province to ensure that the land is designated as farmland for future generations to enjoy its bounty.
But not everyone is happy.
According to Surrey Connect, a statement via press release notes that yes, the federally-owned farmland in Campbell Heights “should and must be preserved,” it is “disingenuous in the extreme for politicians to now, with less than 100 days until the next election, to bring this complex issue forward and jeopardizes everyone’s’ negotiating position.
A civic election is scheduled for October 15, 2022, and feels the issue is a political ploy.
The press release continued: “The problem is that some on council, have decided to politicize the issue, putting its future as farmland in jeopardy. This is all going on in the absence of a strategic plan aimed at preserving the land for agricultural purposes.
“The public ham-fisted approach taken by McCallum and his council supporters, including Linda Annis have only undermined the city’s opportunity to be at the bargaining table from the very beginning.
“The Federal government process is very clear—the first consideration and discussion must be with First Nations. That process may take a year or more to complete, with no time limitations, in compliance with United Nations Declaration on Indigenous People (UNDRIP).
“This land is and has been designated as Industrial Land in the City of Surrey’s Official Community Plan (OCP) since 1966, and during McCallums’ previous tenure as Mayor. It is disingenuous in the extreme for politicians to now, with less than 100 days until the next election, to bring this complex issue forward and jeopardize everyone’s’ negotiating position.
Surrey is situated upon the unceded and traditional territory of the Coast Salish People, specifically the Katzie, Kwantlen and Semiahmoo peoples.
Surrey Connect’s Brenda Locke is an acknowledged challenger for the position of Surrey mayor in the upcoming election.