Saturday, July 03, 2010

Central Saanich and Agricultural Lands

I have been looking at Central Saanich and the farming lands there and here are some interesting facts:

In 1974 Central Saanich had 7292 acres of land in the ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve), now it is a 7183 acres.   This is a loss of 109 acres in 36 years, or about 3 acres per year.   A total loss of 1.5%

According to the 2006 Canadian Census 5510 acres of land in Central Saanich is being farmed - this has fallen by several acres in the last four years.   I know of about 50 acres in the Martindale area that were being farmed five years ago are no longer being actively farmed.  About one quarter of the ALR in Central Saanich is not being farmed in any way.  Land is being lost to active farming because the new owners are not interested in farming.

There are about 57 lots in Central Saanich in the ALR area that are under one acre in size.   Only 6 of them look like there might be any growing of food on them and then it looks like heavy gardening.   These 57 lots have 57 houses on them and a total of 88 buildings on them.  Quite a few of these houses are in excess of 8000 square feet in size.  These houses on small lots in the ALR are a much bigger concern and cause a lot more issues with sprawl than one well thought out and contained development off of ALR or farmland.

There are several houses in Central Saanich on ALR that seem to be in excess of 20,000 square feet in size.   The average sized detached house in Canada has an area of about 2000 square feet, these places ten times that size.   If this were condo development, it could easily have 12-15 units in it.

Monster houses are not in keeping with the rural nature of Central Saanich.

The number of fulltime farmers in the region has dropped dramatically over the last generation.   Protecting ALR has gone well in Central Saanich, but protecting farmers has not gone well.

I raise all this because of the heat the Vantreights are getting about their Hill project.    They are proposing to build 57 houses on land that has never been farmed and will never be farmed.   They are doing this to ensure the financial health of the farm.   They are using an existing rural designation that is in keeping with the OCP and the Regional Growth Strategy.   Meanwhile they are being attacked for the development.

Central Saanich does not seem to mind people buying farmland and then converting it into country estates.   That is contrary to the wishes of the OCP and does nothing to protect farming or the rural nature of Central Saanich.   If people in Central Saanich wanted to see the conversion of the remaining farm operations into rural estates, they should have raised that during the OCP process.

I have not even gone into what Central Saanich has allowed in rural areas outside of the ALR - more on that later.
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