Non-permitted uses threaten Blenkinsop farms

Farmland Protection Coalition organizing petition to ensure that the farmland in the Blenkinsop Valley is stewarded

The Blenkinsop Valley has some of our best farmland in Saanich and some of our most talented and longstanding farmers.  There is a wide range of producers from Morning Fresh Eggs and Galey’s popular Corn Maze to the wide variety of organic products grown and sold at Madrona Farm and many other farms with their roadside stands along Blenkinsop Road.

The micro-climate in the valley produces some of the best growing conditions around. We can be thankful for the sustainable land management techniques employed by the Coast Salish peoples for the fertility in the valley.  This includes practices of controlled burning to increase the camas harvest and productivity of berry patches in the early days.

The land was then further cleared and soils stewarded by the early settlers. Farming in the valley included mixed crops, plant nurseries and livestock. Dairy farming was a significant industry in the Blenkinsop Valley, with milk delivery to the City of Victoria starting in the early 1900s.

The Blenkinsop Valley is a definite gem and has been the focus of farmland protection by the District of Saanich over time.  However, even though the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) was put in place in the 1960s and agriculture zoning employed to protect these lands, we are seeing a significant conversion of these lands from farm production to other non-farm uses as of late.

Residents have been seeing the changes in the valley and there is rising concern.

“The valley is becoming a parking lot,” says one farmer who does not want to be named for fear of reprisals from angry neighbours. “The non-farm permitted uses over time were resisted, but now have become tolerated and normalized.  The permitted activities are replaced by the non-permitted activities permanently.”

They point to the increase in businesses that are using the land for storage of trucks and other industrial activities.

“If we are going to protect farmland for farming for future generations and diversity of life, we are going to have to get tough. Currently the most powerful tool in the Blenkinsop Valley from industrial and non-permitted use is through the UCB and zoning.  Saanich must enforce their bylaws demonstrating their commitments to farmland.”

Some of the most important ways we can do this, they suggest, are to ensure that weight restrictions on trucks in the valley are enforced and to monitor land use through issuing and reviewing business licences in the Blenkinsop Valley.

Farmers at Madrona Farm are also concerned about the long-term impact of some of the activities they see happening in the valley.

“Not only does the industrialization of farmland contaminate soils, pollute riparian areas and destroy wildlife habitat, it also increases its value and prices it out of the range of farmers who are anxious to get their shovels into the soil but are being denied economic access to the land.”

They believe this phenomenon contributes to increasing local food insecurity.

The Farmland Protection Coalition wants people who are concerned to sign a petition asking Mayor Richard Atwell and Saanich council to ensure that the farmland in the Blenkinsop Valley is stewarded today and into the future by enforcing their current bylaws and zoning.

You can find the petition and more information at www.farmlandprotection.ca.

Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at lgeggie@cfair.ca.

 

Just Posted

Rachel Rivera (left) and Claire Ouchi are a dynamic art duo known as the WKNDRS. The two painted the new road mural at Uptown. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Artistic mural at Uptown brings creativity, fun to summer shoppers in Saanich

Road installation the largest of its kind in Greater Victoria

Kathy and Doug LaFortune stand next to the new welcome pole now gracing the front entrance of KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich. LaFortune completed the piece after suffering a stroke with the help of his wife and son Bear. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
KELSET school in North Saanich unveils welcome pole on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Carver Doug LaFortune completed pole with the help of his son, wife after suffering a stroke

Victoria police continue to look for missing man Tyrone Goertzen and are once again asking for the public’s assistance in locating him. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police put out another call for help finding missing man

Tyrone Goertzen, 33, was first reported missing June 4

Colwood council is looking at potential summer weekend closures to traffic of a section of Ocean Boulevard at Esquimalt Lagoon, to allow for more of a park-like setting during summer events such as the popular Eats & Beats event, shown here in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Mayor lobbying for summer weekend closures of beachfront Colwood roadway

Rob Martin to bring motion forward to June 28 council meeting

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

Most Read