Removal of the former Royal Oak Golf Course property from the ALR is not consistent with the mandate of the Agricultural Land Commission, which is: a)to preserve agricultural land; b) to encourage farming in collaboration with other communities of interest; and c) to encourage local governments, First Nations, the government and its agents to enable and accommodate farm use of agricultural land and uses compatible with agriculture in their plans, bylaws and policies.
Furthermore the Ministry of Agriculture has a mandate, which in part, is to help young farmers access land, as well as support fruit and nut growers and processors to expand local food production. To that end, the Grow BC initiative was started. What better way to ensure young farmers have access to arable land and support this government initiative by keeping lands in the ALR from being removed.
While the quality of soil on any land in the ALR will vary there are multiple crops that will thrive in even the poorest soils. My concern here is that any study or report done by an agrologist may only consider high value crops that need ideal soil composition. The book “High Value Veggies” (Cool Spring Press) identified vegetables that can be grown in heavy clay soil like that which is predominant on Vancouver Island. Those crops include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, bean, pea, potato and Daikon radish and all have the potential to produce small parcel economically viable farms which could be incorporated into the former Royal Oak Golf Course property.
The former Royal Oak Golf Course property provides established habitat for many species of birds, insects and small mammals that are an important part of the ecosystem. Many of these species utilize the migratory route and feeding opportunities along the Beaver Lake/ Elk Lake Park corridor where the property in question is directly linked. Reduce the size of the habitat by removing this property from the ALR and there could be a negative impact on those species populations.
There is a concern that development of the former Royal Oak Golf Course property into one of increased urban density will have a significant increase in storm water runoff that could negatively impact the habitat in the downstream Colquitz River watershed. Increased urbanization results in “hardening” of the ground by asphalt for new roads and driveways as well by concrete for new sidewalks. The inability of a developed property to absorb rainfall during significant rainfall events may cause water levels to rise in Colquitz Creek, scour and erode banks causing damage to fish habitat.
Time is short. The Agricultural Land Commission will meet in the near future to decide the fate of this valuable property.
I would request that concerned citizens contact both the chair of the ALC, Jenifer Dyson, as well as the Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham, and ask them to soundly reject the proposal to remove this property from the ALR.