LETTER: The EDPA does not protect farmland

LETTER: The EDPA does not protect farmland

I wish to respond to earlier letters that suggested the EDPA supported farmland, as they are simply not correct. Anyone who states this needs to actually read the EDPA bylaw and guidelines that are in place now. I am concerned this view is being cultivated with the public leading up to the March 17 public hearing when the EDPA does the opposite based on the bylaw’s language and it’s application by Saanich .

Firstly, why would the EDPA protect farmlands when farming has been one of the major sources of clearing of lands historically? The EDPA restricts any activities which disturb soil and vegetation within an EDPA area subject to some exemptions . One exemption within the EDPA guidelines issued under the bylaw, is “Agricultural Use on ALR lands”. Within the EDPA guidelines Agricultural Use is defined as commercial farming under the provincial Farm Practices Protection Act which is provincial legislation that was implemented to prevent municipalities from restricting farming through land use bylaws ( like the EDPA) where the farming was occurring on lands designated as agricultural land reserve under provincial legislation. The exemption in the EDPA reflects the law that it can’t apply to Agricultural Use on ALR lands. That is why there is very few, if any, ALR lands that have an EDPA on them. Rather than promoting farming, The EDPA is actually designed to do the opposite by protecting lands from practices like farming that disturb the soil or vegetation. It is the Farm Pratices Protection Act that you should thank for saving the lands from the EDPA.

Now let’s turn to what most farming in Saanich is and what the EDPA means to it. For those landowners who are not commercial farmers but are small scale farming for their own use, or the eggs sales at the end of the driveway, the EDPA does restrict them from initiating farming with an EDPA area. There is no exemption and the provincial protections do not prevent the EDPA from applying even as in my case where our land is zoned A1 Agricultural under the municipal zoning but is not in the ALR. Given how poorly the EDPA mapping has been done in Saanich this means we cannot farm large areas of our land, despite them being cleared since 1983, as the have been designated as EDPA sensitive ecosystems …as has my house and asphalt driveway and lawn.

If you really want to protect an owner’s ability to farm their land , you will support a repeal and rewrite of the EDPA so it does not apply to any farming practices on rural lands and not just commercial farming in the ALR.

Andrea Mullett