Local farmer Ellen Lewers spoke against participation by Sooke in the CRD’s foodlands trust program, saying local farmers need the support first. (File)

CRD ‘foodland trust’ request meets resistance from Sooke council

Too many unknowns and a lack of local land derail immediate support

Sooke councillor Al Beddows thinks a proposal by the Capital Regional District to create a “foodlands trust” should go to help existing farmers, not focus on new farmers trying to get themselves established.

The proposed foodlands trust calls for municipalities in Greater Victoria to either donate municipal land or make a commitment to fund the project through the collection of additional taxes.

But several aspects of the plan irked Beddows when the program was presented to Sooke council recently by Jeff Weightman, a project manager for the CRD.

“Is this program going to help established farmers, or focus on new farmers trying to get themselves established?” asked Beddows.

“My thought was that we would be better served if assistance was offered to established farmers.”

Weightman’s response – that the program would primarily focus on new farmers – seemed to confirm Beddows’ fears.

“So, you’re going to take 10 acres somewhere in Saanich and give it to some new farmer with no experience and no equipment, he won’t be living on the land, and you think this will be a good idea?” asked Beddows.

RELATED: CRD weighs support

Beddows’ concerns were shared by Sooke farmer Ellen Lewers.

“I just don’t see the need for a farmland trust. What’s needed is helping the farmers already here,” she told council.

Another issue centred aroundSooke having no land that met the requirements of the trust and the only lands in the program to date are in Saanich and North Saanich.

That would leave Sooke in the position of funding the program on those lands. But even there, problems were evident as there was no definitive dollar amount put forward.

The actual levy required by each municipality, council was told, would be dependant upon how many municipalities actually buy into the concept. So far, only Central Saanich, North Saanich, Saanich and Sidney have opted into the program with several others, including Oak Bay, Colwood, and Langford opting out.

“How are we going to vote to support this if we don’t even know what the cost is?” Beddows said.

“We don’t know enough … there are too many unknowns and we don’t have to go charging ahead right now. Let it sit a year and look at it then” he said, adding Sooke would be better off funding an additional community garden.

“The garden down by the Baptist church donates something like 3,000 pounds of food a year to the food bank,” he said.

Coun. Megan McMath expressed her own concerns about the concept, noting the land donated to the trust was almost exclusively in the Saanich region.

“I don’t see the benefit of donating (to the trust) given that the land is so far away from us. I would like to pursue the donation of CRD owned parkland (in the Sooke region) for the trust,” she said.

Following additional discussions, during which Coun. Tony St. Pierre and Coun. Ebony Logins both expressed some support for the trust, it was decided council would support the foodland trust concept in principle, without making a definitive commitment to participation.



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

New top cop coming to Sooke in September

Sgt. Brett Sinden comes to Sooke from Sidney

Deep Cove Chalet set to re-open following fire

North Saanich eatery says July 24 will be ‘business as normal’ following rebuild

Two VicPD officers injured during mental health arrest

The officers sustained non-life-threatening injuries early Sunday morning

Traffic lights out on Highway 1 at McKenzie

Major delays are expected for the morning on the Trans-Canada Highway

Saanich man escapes being run down by own truck

The man was working on his truck in the 800 block of Darwin Avenue, when it started to roll on him

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

Health Canada revokes licences of B.C.-based pot producer Agrima Botanicals

The agency said it notified the company of a suspension in November due to non-compliance with regulations

Deals, protests during Amazon Prime Day

The Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth says it is offering more than a million deals

Canadian national softball team wins second straight Canada Cup

Team Canada defeats Texas-based Scrapyard International in gold-medal game Sunday in Surrey

June sees drop in home sales, prices for real estate across B.C.: report

Sales dropped by 11.8%, while prices fell by 4%

Video captures driver narrowly avoiding hitting Granfondo cyclists in Okanagan

“I’m just glad that everything aligned enough and no one got hurt,” said Shaun Siebert

Most Read