One of Saanich’s most prominent farmers is throwing down the gauntlet to Capital Region municipal candidates by asking them to publicly pledge to protect farmland.
Nathalie Chambers, who runs the 11-hectare Madrona Farm on Blenkinsop Road with her husband, will host the first Municipal Farmland Challenge to coincide with the farm’s annual Chef Survival Challenge on Sept. 7.
“We’re inviting all councillors who have a good record of protecting farmland as well as new candidates to take part,” Chambers said.
Once at Madrona, the friendly competition will see politicians turn soil and plant a row of crops. After a winner is declared, each participant will pledge support on video for the protection of the Capital Region’s supply of arable land.
“Saanich is so good with protecting farmland, but many municipalities aren’t,” Chambers said. “We’re some of the highest food bank users in B.C. Our failure of food security is right here in our backyard.”
Central Saanich Coun. Zeb King is already firmly behind the pledge event. He said the province is weakening the Agricultural Land Reserve, and that means active farmland protection is even more crucial in urban areas.
King said municipal land use bylaws and other local authority can “determine whether or not urban sprawl will be allowed to intrude further into our region’s finest and fertile arable land.”
Chambers hopes all of the region’s mayors will take part in the event, though she still hasn’t received a definite yes from Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard.
“We had 500 people show up at last year’s Chef Survival Challenge, so there will be plenty of cheerleaders,” she said.
Sign up for the event as a candidate or simply as a foodie on the Chef Survival Challenge website at chefsurvivalchallenge.ca.