Monday, March 14, 2011

Application in Saanich to remove a 4 acre lot from the ALR

Tonight Saanich council will decide if it is should support the removal of 4 acres of land from the agricultural land reserve at 1516 Mt Douglas X Road.

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What I find interesting is that there has been almost no issue with this from any of the people that have been opposing development of the rock on the Vantreight property.   I can find no mention of this proposal at the Dogwood Initiative's campaign "Vancouver Island is not for sale".   It highlights to me the fact that the Dogwood Initiative campaign against the Vantreight Hill Project was a personal attack on the family and nothing to do with any ecological values or agricultural values.

The report to council by staff says that removing this land from the ALR is in keeping with the OCP.   The argrologist's comments on the proposed removal of the land says the property is not of high quality soils and it is isolated from other agricultural lands.

Does removing this land from the ALR make sense?   I would say yes as it is in a bad location for a farm, it is too small a property to be viable as a farm, and it does not have high quality soils.  To me this is a non-issue, though it is more of an issue than many places where people are currently fighting against changes.

How will council vote on this?   Good question.   If they vote Yes, in November this could be used as a major way to attack the council members during the re-election.   The sound bite is "Councilor X voted to remove farm land from the ALR and build houses on it".  

If there are people concerned about this land being removed from the ALR, the council could ask the developer to pay for the costs to sonsolidate two agricultural lots elsewhere in Saanich and then have them pay for a covenant to not allow subdivision of that land.   The biggest problem in this region with agricultural land is that much too much of it is in small lots.   If the local councils and the CRD are serious about keeping agricultural land, they would be paying existing farmers to consolidate properties.  We need to have a plan in place to have the average size of ALR properties to double in area as quickly as possible and eventually get to 100 acres as the average size or ALR properties.
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