Delta Independent MLA Vicki Huntington

Port, Province Set to Steamroll Over Delta’s “Meaningless” Farmland


We’ve known it all along, but at last we hear it out loud. Robin Silvester, the President and CEO of Port Metro Vancouver, has stated that:

“Agriculture is emotionally important, but economically [of] relatively low importance to the Lower Mainland. And in terms of food security, [it] is almost meaningless for the Lower Mainland.”

So there we have it…finally, honesty from someone in a position of power. Our Premiers and their governments have known it was too political to admit to — that Delta’s agricultural land will be turned into an industrial park.

And to put the icing on Delta’s cake, so to speak, the Premier commented at a recent dinner to the construction industry that those silly people in Delta don’t want the Port: how unpatriotic can they be? Look at the jobs, the opportunity to be “Canada’s face to Asia,” to contribute to the good of the province and of Canada!

Well, Madam Premier, we know the value of Deltaport to BC and to Canada. We live with it. We accept its presence. And we have given up more than you can imagine in order to host the port, as well as its access roads, its rail tracks, the overpasses, the highways and the causeways it requires to operate efficiently.

We have contributed to the economic prosperity of our country and region. And enough is enough. Credible alternatives are available in Vancouver harbor and at Prince Rupert so it is irresponsible to destroy more farmland and internationally-significant habitat for world-renowned salmon runs, Canada’s major stopover for migratory birds of the Pacific Flyway, and endangered southern resident orcas.

Now we know that the Premier and her industrial supporters intend to lay waste to what is left of the Fraser estuary. Now we know that any obligation to community, to family, to history, to wildlife (both marine and avian) migrations, to the finest agricultural land in Canada, is not on the provincial agenda. Habitat and farmland are being sacrificed for business and a plan that could ultimately be unfeasible. This is also about rezoning farmland, a lucrative enterprise for the business associates of government.

Many of those fighting to preserve what is left of Delta’s agricultural heritage and the migratory bird flyway that depends on those uplands have known that government policies supported Silvester’s position. It has been clear from its reports that the Gateway Council controls the government agenda. But to hear the comment finally spoken aloud is still a jarring experience.

Yes, Mr. Silvester, it is emotional. Our community – our families, our history, our agricultural industry, our soul and our quality of our life depend on the land. So does the entire Pacific population of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. But the people don’t matter. Nor does wildlife or the morality of protecting an international Treaty obligation to preserve the habitat on which that migration depends.

The people of B.C. recognize the importance of credible business and trade but question the motives of unnecessarily destroying the environment and fine agricultural land.

We deserve a say in the decisions that affect our communities and lives. Does anyone else feel there is a reason people are occupying Wall Street?

Vicki Huntington is the Independent BC MLA for Delta South and a contributor to The Common Sense Canadian


13 thoughts on “Port, Province Set to Steamroll Over Delta’s “Meaningless” Farmland

  1. What an article, the government is broken when politicians view the public as a divided mass, some who know what is going on and some (like us here in Delta) that have no clue apparently. For Clark and Silvester to say such comments without actually being one of us (South Delta residents) is a disgusting attempt to de-legitimize our claims, OUR concerns. Yes, Canada and BC need jobs, and yes we have resources and the ability to create them. BUT at what cost, Vicki says it best, “The people of B.C. recognize the importance of credible business and trade but question the motives of unnecessarily destroying the environment and fine agricultural land.” This current government stands to destroy everything we hold dear, when are those in power going to stop seeing dollar signs and see the true issues, the more important issues. I cant wait until this government is thrown out of power, the countdown is on and it cant end soon enough. I am disgusted and ashamed that we in BC, the most beautiful place on this earth, are headed in government by people who have such a smug thought of the people they are supposed to be governing. Newsflash Clark, is the radio station position still open?

  2. Mike, I don’t get my hackles up – I just respond to bullshit. I don’t have the time to read your condescending lecture on trade. Suffice it to say, the economic benefits of globalized trade have been vastly exaggerated – evidenced by the decline in real wages witnessed all over the industrialized world in the post “free trade” / NAFTA era. In a Peak Oil world, this kind of trade is not only environmentally destructive, but inefficient and not economically viable in the long term. You should read Jeff Rubin’s “Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller.” In closing, my response to your original comment was meant to correct a false impression – that agriculture has a low economic value to the province and Lower Mainland (FALSE – as I have demonstrated); 2. That local agriculture is meaningless in terms of food security (also patently FALSE, as I have demonstrated). You want to keep drinking from the same kool-aid as Mr. Silvester, knock yourself out.

  3. “I guess the news of our success in aquaculture must drive you insane.”
    Not exactly. What drives people insane is the complete decimation of our naturally occurring wild stocks in order to house and grow an unnaturally occurring Atlantic salmon; grown and nourished in a way that decimates our wild stocks and another wild stock belonging to another nation(Chile).
    The Wikipedia beginning with “Two commonly used definitions of food security………
    Wikipedia as a research tool? Wikipedia is the perfect example of editorial content run amok.
    Secondly, one might want to have a conversation with First Nations people living in certain places in Canada who today still do not have access to clean, healthy drinking water.
    Then this gem:
    “For people in our midst who do not have access to fresh food, we as members of society, should do our best to help them get it.”
    We reach success in this idealistic comment by paving over good useable farm land; land that has been farmed for more than 100 years?
    This is not only the land. How about the Fraser estuary? It is similar to the everglades and at least some of that was retained. How about the migrating bird flyway? The birds are there for a reason right? Good nutritional food for them too and rest is probably why they are there. Ah but what the hell all of this can just go somewhere else right Mike?
    Sylvester know business. That is it.

  4. Damien. You sure get your hackles up in a hurry! Where do I begin? I think I will start with Port Metro Vancouver. You should probably check your $180 million figure to see what it means. Port Metro Vancouver is an infrastructure hub that is a critical for our ability to participate in world trade. Many people don’t like infrastructure because they don’t understand it.

    I can’t believe you are asking me which has more economic value agriculture or “shipping”. What do you mean by “shipping” anyway? It is called trade Damien….trade. The exchange of goods between regions and countries. The exchange of products and commodities that drive our economy so that you can have a job.

    The Port trades $75 billion in goods annually with more than 160 trading economies, generating across Canada an estimated 129,500 jobs, $6.1 billion in wages, and $10.5 billion in GDP. 
    Asking which is more important in terms of revenue is ridiculous. In fact if it wasn’t for the Port and trade, agricultural product not consumed in our small market would be lying in massive compost heaps rotting.

    I guess the news of our success in aquaculture must drive you insane. How dare we trade seafood when we should be canning it all in preparation for the coming armageddon?

    What about the export of beef to growing and insatiable Asian markets? I suppose this is also taboo and deserved of an upcoming “cavalier” documentary.

    There are hundreds of definitions of food security. Pay attention to these two common ones as described on wikipedia:

    “Two commonly used definitions of food security come from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):
    Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social[22] and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.[23]
    Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum (1) the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and (2) an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies). (USDA)[24]”

    The urban myth of trucks, planes and boats unable to deliver food because of something (not sure what, and please don’t say “peak oil”) is an example of flagrant hypothesizing and unnecessary fear-mongering

    Look, growing and eating local food when in season is the right thing to do and it is good to see that this is a practice that is on the increase. Food awareness is far more important than food security in my mind. Agriculture and farming should be introduced in to our education system so that we can continue to grow our own food and introduce new generations of farmers to an important livelihood and industry.

    However, but I do not believe that we need to think that we need to produce all of our own food. A look at the numbers would show that this is virtually impossible in any case.

    For people in our midst who do not have access to fresh food, we as members of society, should do our best to help them get it.

    Robin Sylvester knows that we are not going to starve because we are improving our infrastructure and our ability to maintain competitiveness in the open market.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts.


  5. Mike, the context is very specific. Silvester said farmland has “low” economic value. He said it’s “meaningless” in terms of food security. As your document points out, agriculture revenues in BC were $2.4 Billion in 2006 – they were $2.65 Billion last year – about $728 million of which is from the Metro Vancouver region. By contrast, according to Business in Vancouver, Port Metro had $180 million in revenues in 2010. So you tell me which has a higher economic value to the Lower Mainland – agriculture or shipping? With regards to his comment that it’s meaningless in terms of food security – that’s an even bigger gaffe. We produce far less than half of our own food in BC; we’ve gone from over 80% self-sufficiency in vegetables in 1970 to half that today. If those trucks stopped rolling across the border from Mexico and California tomorrow, we’d be running out of food in our supermarkets in 2-3 days. Both you and Silvester are gravely mistaken in your cavalier attitudes toward food security.

  6. “meaningless” was likely taken out of context and refers to the idea of food security. Take a look at BC ag stats and you may get a sense of what he was referring to.
    Also consider our trade balance and our access to cheap product abroad. That was trade is. You get our logs we get your mandarin oranges.

    Also take a look at Green house grower stats, an industry that our MLA now seemingly supports.Greenhouses will thankfully ensure food security. We might have a limited menu but we will always have food.

  7. Except for the Dave Barrett NDP government of the early 1970’s, no B.C. government, right or left, has treated agriculture and food as an important element of economy. One day we will all pay a high price for our political shortsightedness. Perhaps we have to Occupy the Farmland.

  8. Tsawwassen resident, I’m curious to hear why that is. I wonder how you would respond to your MLA’s specific points in this piece…For instance, do you agree with Mr. Silvester that farmland is largely “meaningless”?

  9. Thank you I shared your excellent article and below is my response.

    Disgusting how the BC Liberal Party is raping and pillaging every natural resource in our province. Power and corporate greed have transformed Liberals into Eco-monsters. Most of us care about our bird estuaries, our Pacific salmon, our rivers … clean waters …

    I hope people phone, fax or confront MLAs and MPs and remind them BC belongs to us, the people, not their political party and their cronies.

  10. When son of a banker Andrew Coyne (I prefer Coin) tells us the “OCCUPIERS are envious” and his partner in denial, Chantal Hébert sits there with a distressed look of helplessness we know the mother corp is useless! They call it “In depth analysis” I call it, CBC, your name is SMUG-COMPLACENT!

    MSM Canada has been getting away with this for years which brings us to . . .

    Port, Province Set to Steamroll Over Delta’s “Meaningless” Farmland. How short-term foolish can we get?

    democracy’s mumbo jumbo it is clear the vote is meaningless and, inevitably, we must line up with the OCCUPIERS

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