Friday, June 18, 2010

A letter from a North Saanich resident and environmentalist to the Dogwood Initiative

This came over my inbox and speaks to the strange situation that has occurred with the Hill Proposal of the Vantreights. Somehow the Dogwood Initiative is leading the charge to stop the development and thereby ensure the end of the farm and the ultimate sale of the land. One only needs to look to North Saanich and see how many huge houses are on large acreages. The land is no longer farmed and will remain so far, far into the future.

It also concerns me that the the denial of the development will be in direct contravention of the Central Saanich OCP - the plan very specifically first and foremost calls for the support of agriculture.  This means helping people like the Michells and Vantreights continue farming on their lands.  More in detail on how not approving this in a later process, in fact I think there is a strong legal case that the development has to be allowed unless the OCP is amended to take out support of agriculture.

Dear Dogwood Initiative people,
Somehow I am in receipt of your e-mailed notice of the "townhall" meeting you have organized for tomorrow evening, although I am not a member of your initiative.
May I respectfully suggest that your team of "experts" get their facts straight. Perhaps they could have a tour of the Vantreight Farm and get a first-hand look at the property and also hear what the plans actually are. I find it most unsettling to see so much misinformation being circulated.
Yes, the Saanich Peninsula IS the breadbasket of the region and the Vantreight family IS working very hard to ensure that agricultural land is protected for years to come. Your organization and the Vantreights have the same end goals in mind.
The Vantreight family has farmed this land for well over 100 years and the current generation seriously wants to continue farming. They have some very up-to-date green plans, including an anaerobic composting process that will produce heat and power as well as compost in an enclosed place. Their development plans are also made with the environment in mind.
We need to be supporting our farm families (those who are actually farming productively) rather than discouraging their every effort to keep our rural atmosphere.
The Vantreights need the proceeds of this development in order to continue farming. This is necessary in order to settle the estate of the original Vantreight who passed away several years ago.
Should the Vantreights not be able to build their Hill Project (which is actually much smaller than your organization states) then their land will have to be sold, divided up into small pieces that would not very likely be used for serious agricultural purposes. We do not need more hobby farms. We would prefer to enjoy the vast expanse of productive fields that make the Saanich Peninsula such a desirable area. We, as a society, should be encouraging our farmers to produce more food locally, which is the goal of Vantreight Farms.
The property involved in this development plan is NOT in the ALR. It adjoins other residential property in North Saanich. It is NOT farmable land.
I myself have a vested interest in farmland staying in productive use as I live bordering one of the Vantreights' large fields. I would hate to see this property divided up into small, unproductive pieces. And I would be very sad indeed to see one of our last serious farm families be forced to give up their land.
There IS much community support for the Vantreight family in their endeavor to keep the farm. Unfortunately, we are not as vocal as those who seem to be misinformed and seem to be in opposition. I fail to understand the opposition to this effort to keep the Saanich Peninsula agricultural.
Please do become informed before spreading untruths about this proposal.
I hope that you will circulate my letter here your members - perhaps send it out to your e-mail list. And I hope that they will attend the next open house at the Vantreight Farm.
I feel that I can support some of your other projects as I AM an environmentalist and I do love to live here on Vancouver Island. I definitely want to keep the Saanich Peninsula agricultural. It would be a very sad thing, indeed, if this farm family was forced out of farming.
Darien Elliott
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