Dana Maslovat of Southlands the Facts, in front of a barley field on the Southlands property

Delta Council Paves Way for Massive Housing Development on Farmland, Over Public Opposition


On the eve of municipal elections, Delta Council has unanimously voted to begin amending its Official Community Plan, paving the way for a highly controversial housing development by Century Group atop the Southlands (aka Spetifore Farm). The October 17 decision could override a recent lengthy public consultation process that rejected changes to the Tsawwassen Area Plan (one of three communities that constitute Delta) to rezone the property for development.

“Given the two years and hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars spent on updating the Tsawwassen Area Plan, I am extremely disappointed that Mayor and Council are proceeding with this application,” said Dana Maslovat of Southlands the Facts, a community group fighting to save the farmland.

“The public has clearly indicated their wishes to keep this land agricultural and it makes me wonder why all that time and money was spent to update our Area Plan if it is to be changed almost immediately. Furthermore, they are proceeding with a change to the Official Community Plan without a specific development proposal which is basically akin to giving the developer a blank cheque.”

The 500-plus acre parcel of land in Tsawwassen’s Boundary Bay was removed from the ALR by a 1981 order in council – at the urging of several ruling Scored MLAs who were interested in developing the property at the time. The order overruled the Agricultural Land Commission, which opposed the property’s development, based on its high soil quality – yet the Southlands has remained protected by its municipal agricultural zoning.

Despite numerous polls and meetings over the past several decades that have consistently demonstrated the community’s overwhelming opposition to rezoning the Southlans for development, Delta Council is now poised to override the Tsawwassen Area Plan and push ahead with the unpopular proposal from Century Group that could see between 1,000 and 2,000 homes on the property.

There will be some form of public consultation before the amendment to the Delta OCP is ratified, which sets the stage for yet another round of heated criticism of the plan. According to Maslovat, “A proposed timeline would involve public information meetings early in 2012 with a possible Public Hearing in the spring. The OCP designation change application was submitted without a specific development plan application, which would involve a separate process and Public Hearing.”

It remains to be seen what political fallout will arise from the decision, which comes just one month prior to municipal elections.

Watch this recent documentary by Damien Gillis on the battle over the Southlands


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.

9 thoughts on “Delta Council Paves Way for Massive Housing Development on Farmland, Over Public Opposition

  1. John, the article sis quite clear council has voted unanimously to BEGIN the amendment process – not that they’ve already gone ahead and changed the OCP. I think you misrepresent the level of public opposition and the reliability of the methods used to quantify it. It’s as if council and the developer and his supporters want to keep asking the same question over and over and over again until people finally give up out of sheer exhaustion and tell them what they want to hear. That’s not good democratic process…As for your argument that this is the only way to farm the land, well, we’ll have to continue agreeing to disagree on that one. The fact is at less than 50% food self-sufficiency in BC, we just can’t spare ANY viable farmland – which the Southlands clearly is. Parts of the land may not be economically viable for farming today; that’s fine – some of it should be left as nature conservancy anyway. But expert agrologists and soils reports attest to the land’s overall farmability and you won’t convince me that the best way to preserve farmland is to build houses on it. Hodgins should be looking to make a deal, receive adequate compensation and get off the land for good.

  2. Damien: This article is a total distortion of so many elements. The Council is only following a process, they have approved nothing. The measurement of public opinion on the issue has never been done effectively. There are many, many people in Tsawwassen, Ladner, and North Delta who support this project because it finally finds a resolution to how the farming can be done economically. This proposal is far more than a development project – it creates a community-based organic farming enterprise to grow food locally. It creates the first post-secondary educational facility in Delta dedicated to training the farmers of the 21st Century. The people who will be attracted to the new development will be much different than those who live here today. They will likely live and work in the community and not commute long distances. The farm and residential community create synergy to use recovered ground and surface waters from upper Tsawwassen to irrigate the land in the summer and supply a geothermal district heaitng system in the winter. This idea is a win-win for all sides and shouldbe embraced by all of us.

  3. The author doesn’t acknowlege the new proposal that will be submitted which is significantly different from the first articulations of a development.
    To “Robin”…can you tell us how much money Century has contributed to DIVA or any other municipal political party?
    Also, what farmers and trusts were interested in buying the land? On that note, I don’t recall seeing any FOR SALE signs around the property.
    Another also, almost every development application in Delta during the past twenty years has involved an ammendment application to the OCP

  4. bad politicians get elected by good people who dont
    vote. SHAME on DELTA’s MAYOR AND ENTIRE COUNCIL for ignoring process of democracy.

  5. Delta mayor and council have shown just how little think of residents wishes by putting forward this change to the OCP. Not only have they sold residents out they’ve shown their loyalties lie with the developers who fnd their campaigns.
    Also by doing this, Delta has taken any possibility of the land being bought for agricultural prices by the small farmers and trusts that would have been interested in buying this property. All they had to do was say NO to the developer and he and other developers would have recognized that farmland means farmland. Period.
    What a bunch of sellouts.

  6. OCCUPY WALL STREET must have a local theme. In this case OCCUPY DELTA CITY HALL. Time for the 99% to FIRE mayors, councils and governments that do not represent the people. Delta has seen enough slick presentation from developers wanting to convince a SLEEPING council (see U-Tube video of Cllr Campbell sleeping) and a public that is tired of having to continue to fight the 1% that feel entitled to do as they wish. FIRE MAYOR AND COUNCIL.

  7. As usual, greed trumps common sense.

    BC’s farmland is disappearing at an alarming rate. With a global shortage of food, the fools just don’t get it.

    There will be wars over, clean drinking water and food. BC is also poisoning our underground water by fracking, which wastes a horrendous amount of water.

    I guess we had better pray…We can evolve enough to eat housed and drink poisoned water.

    Man is the most destructive animal on earth…And, most certainly, the most stupid animal.

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