Industrial use encroaching on Saanich farmland

Blenkinsop Valley farmers say complaint-based system not enough

David and Nathalie Chambers of Madrona Farm are hoping Saanich will lead better protection for the Blenkinsop Valley farmland.

The operators of Madrona Farm are seeking answers to what they believe is a high degree of insidious industrialization in the Blenkinsop Valley.

David and Nathalie Chambers have farmed the 10-hectare Madrona property since it was purchased after a successful 2002 campaign by The Land Conservancy.

Since then, Madrona and other farms along Blenkinsop Road have increasingly come under threat by non-permitted uses of land designated as Agricultural Land Reserve, uses that should be enforced under the protection of the Agricultural Land Commission, said Nathalie Chambers.

“I’ve called councillors, the mayor and bylaw officers and the complaint-based system isn’t working,” she said.

The author of the 2015 book Saving Farmland: The fight for real food, is invested in protecting food-producing land. To see a tract of the most fertile land in Canada threatened by industrial usage has her wondering why Saanich isn’t standing behind its 1977 designation as an agricultural greenway.

Current misuses of farmland start with a neighbouring property to Madrona, where the Chambers have witnessed multiple tree service trucks parked, and where numerous loads of tree chipping waste have been dumped, Chambers said.

“This part of Blenkinsop is incredible for growing, and it got this way after thousands of years of nurturing by the First Nations.”

Anything beyond parking a work truck, used by the homeowner or tenant, is a non-permitted use, said Thomas Loo, a former ALC compliance officer who left in 2013 after six years.

However, that property is not under ALC responsibility, said Kim Grout, the new CEO of the ALC.

“That had been a complaint investigated but the property had a separate independent title [applied] in 1943, so it’s actually exempt from regulations,” Grout said.

Therefore, it’s up to Saanich to regulate it.

However, it goes much beyond that, Chambers said, with eight different “parking lots” in use along the Blenkinsop Valley. It’s a trend already happening in B.C., where farmland is a cheap option where industrial zoned land is either unavailable or more expensive.

During Loo’s time as a compliance officer with the ALC he saw about 50 cases of ALR properties in Surrey using ALR land to park commercial trucks. The small farms would rent land to the truckers, and in the end, some or most are still there, he said.

The main problem Chambers has encountered, as there are numerous other infringements she’s tried to bring awareness to, is that the public feels unsafe to make complaints.


“People get angry, people yell at you, and we need a positive vision, but what we have is widespread bylaw infringement,” Chambers said.



Just Posted

Bike sharing program rolls into Saanich

According to staff, U-Bicycle plans to make between 75 and 100 bicycles available in Saanich.

Two puppies snatched from East Sooke home

Anyone with information asked to contact Sooke RCMP

Saanich teen helps save three people from the Gorge

53-year-old male who was submerged is expected to recover

Moving Trans History Forward conference aimed at more than LGBTQ community

UVic’s Aaron Devor: “We’re all here to learn from each other”

Large fire destroys home on McClure Street in Victoria

Fire crews dispatched to the 1100-block shortly before noon Monday

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Mayor says it could take “years” to replace EDPA

Mayor Richard Atwell said it will take Saanich “years” to replace a… Continue reading

Janet Austin announced as B.C.’s new lieutenant governor

Austin has served as YWCA Metro Vancouver CEO since 2003

Ex-French president Sarkozy in custody on Gadhafi claims

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was placed in custody as part of an investigation that he received millions of euros in illegal financing

Hockey pioneer Kwong dies at 94

Vernon’s Larry Kwong was the first player to break NHL colour barrier in 1948

How Facebook likes could profile voters for manipulation

Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica, a data-analysis firm worked for Trump’s 2016 campaign

Uber suspends self-driving car tests after fatality

A woman walking outside a crosswalk in Phoenix was killed when she was hit by a self-driving car

Police divers to resume river search for missing Montreal boy

Police divers and a helicopter search the shores of the Riviere des Prairies for missing 10-year old boy Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

World’s last male northern white rhino dies

The world’s last male northern white rhino, Sudan, has died after “age-related complications”.

Most Read