How valuable is farmland?
Site C, a proposal by BC Hydro to build a third dam on the Peace River will flood over 8000 acres of prime farm land with capabilities found nowhere else in Canada. This unique valley has a micro climate that could provide food security for this region and beyond.
Canada is losing farm acres every year. According to Statistics Canada:
Total farm area in British Columbia decreased 7.9% between 2006 and 2011 to 6.5 million acres. British Columbia had 4.0% of the total farm area in Canada in 2011. (Stats Canada)
Can we afford to lose another 8000 acres of prime farm land?
Of the total farm area in British Columbia in 2011, 61.7% was pasture land (tame or seeded pasture and natural land for pasture). Crop land accounted for an additional 23.0%. Farm operators reported 1.5 million acres of crop land in 2011, up 2.3% from 2006. The province accounted for 1.7% of crop land reported in Canada. Crop land is the total area used in field crops, hay, fruits, field vegetables, sod and nurseries.
This Peace River Valley is unique as it provides all of the above; pasture land, crop land, field vegetables, etc.
British Columbia ranked third in Canada in field vegetable area, behind Ontario and Quebec. The province reported 16,287 acres in 2011 down 5.3% since 2006. The largest vegetable crops in British Columbia were sweet corn, beans, squash and zucchini. Sweet corn area has decreased 5.9% since 2006 to 3,216 acres in 2011.
British Columbia is seeing a decrease in field vegetable area; how then can we justify destroying these 8,000 acres in the Peace Valley. This area may not be producing to capacity at this time but does that give the right to destroy this valuable land for future generations.
These above statistics from Stats Canada do not represent the number of acres of land within the Agriculture Land Reserve that is taken out of production for use by the oil and gas industry. Surface tenures, facilities, access roads and other oil and gas related activities are considered temporary; however, anyone dealing with these sites knows it is well beyond temporary in most cases.
According to the Oil and Gas Commission: Total area of ALR in NEBC = 1,338,134 hectares and the total area of ALR in the Peace River Block = 934,246 hectares. As of May 31, 2011 the total surface land area occupied by oil and gas activity in the ALR in NEBC = 16,325 hectares and the total surface land area occupied by oil and gas activity in the ALR within the Peace River Block = 10,872 hectares. This area includes wells, facilities, access, miscellaneous uses permitted by OGC, however, this area does not include pipeline rights of way.
Yes, we need industry and industry requires thousands of acres of farmland, but it must be done in a way to benefit future generations. Oil and gas activity is deemed as temporary, however power generated by the construction of this dam has a life span of 100 years. According to a statement by Premier Clark, this power will be used primarily by industry. Does this short term project justify flooding and destroying valuable farm land forever?
Valuable farm land is being taken out of agriculture production every year. Can we afford to lose another 8000 acres that is capable of producing sweet corn, beans, squash, and zucchini for future generations?
More information regarding Site C can be found at:
‘Keep the Peace River Valley, Say “No” to Site C Dam
People of the Peace don’t want Site C!
www.peacevalley.ca or People from the Peace talking about their concerns with the Site C Dam – first up, starring George Desjarlais
A quote from the Minister of Agriculture “Farmers are the heart of B.C. food production” by Norm Letnick, Minister of Agriculture, September 11, 2012
“Farmers ensure that food production in B.C. will continue to grow and support valuable jobs and healthy communities for centuries to come.”
We need to keep our valuable farm land if we are to fulfil the above statement.
If you enjoyed this article, get email updates (it's free).