Banned Video on Southlands Battle!


A new 13 min documentary – produced by filmmaker Damien Gillis in
partnership with a number of Tsawwassen groups and citizens – is now
available online, after having been banned by Delta Council from public
hearings they are currently conducting
. “Saving the Southlands” tells
the story of the 30-year battle to protect a 500-acre parcel of prime
farmland in Tsawwassen from proposed housing development – set against
the backdrop of an emerging food security crisis in BC….Now see for yourselves the film Delta
Council has tried to keep from the public. read more below

The film was recently censored by Delta Council after attempts to submit
it to a hearing on the question of returning the Southlands property to
the ALR. Having allowed the first five minutes to be
played on the opening night of the hearing – over the vocal objections
of supporters of owner Century Group’s proposed development of 1,900
homes on
the property – Council refused the following evening to play the
remainder. What’s more, they refused even to allow the film as a
submission for
councillors to view privately, on the grounds that it “may contain
libel” – pending prior “vetting” and approval by a bureaucrat. They made this statement without having seen the film for
themselves – which begs the question, how do they know it “may contain
libel”? Moreover, why should a film submission be treated any
differently than a spoken one – and if all future video submissions are to require “vetting”, as council has stated, why should video presentations be subjected to different standards than oral ones? Does this not open the door to the “vetting” of all submissions to public hearings – by bureaucrats, no less? Imagine the next time you go to speak at a hearing on an industrial project that threatens the environment in your community, you have to gain government approval for you remarks before delivering them! Is this not a slippery slope?

“Saving the Southlands” features a number of Tsawwassen residents,
Richmond City Councillor and ALR co-founder Harold Steves, agrologist
Arzeena Hamir, and also profiles several local community farming success
stories.  The film is a unique new media story – funded entirely by
citizens, a number of whom were also involved in the production. Its
release comes in the midst of a landmark public hearing after which
council will vote on whether to apply to the Agricultural Land
Commission to return the Southlands to the ALR. The property was removed
30 years ago under questionable evidence, but has remained protected by
its municipal agricultural zoning. Owner Century Group has been ramping
up its efforts over the past year to get that changed. Now inclusion in
the ALR could finally bring this saga to a close, opening the door to
other potential models, such as a land trust with urban farming and
nature conservancy components, favoured by many int he community.


About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

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