I am writing to you in the hope that the information shared below will affect conversations and decisions made during the meetings planned between the ALC and RDNO this Thursday, Jan. 31.
As you will be discussing the Agricultural Land Commission within the framework of the Regional Growth Strategy and later with the Agricultural Advisory Committee, we hope you will consider the values, lifestyles and expressed wishes of the citizens of areas D and E (rural Lumby and Cherryville).
Residents of these rural communities have done much over the last 20 years to try and preserve the rural character that is central to their lifestyles, and the environment of their watershed which, according to Claude Labine, chief scientific officer of Campbell Scientific data and resident of Cherryville, “The Shuswap River is the cleanest watershed at this latitude and needs to be maintained.” The Shuswap River Watershed Sustainability Plan developed by the Regional District offers detailed information as to the reasons for protecting this rare watershed.
What does all this have to do with the ALC and agriculture? Six years ago, when GM crops were starting to proliferate replacing traditional farms with factory farms, people of areas D and E held an informal vote as to whether they wanted GM crops or not. They overwhelmingly voted no. Eighteen percent of the voting public chose to vote, which is the norm for this type of volunteer vote, and 97 per cent in Cherryville and 93 per cent in rural Lumby voted no GM crops which translates to no Factory Farming.
Their reasoning was that they wanted to keep small diversified farms that protect our food security and suit rural lifestyles. The fact that a food co-op featuring local organic food has taken root in Lumby subsequent to the vote, and is, to this day, still staffed by local volunteers substantiate this choice.
Today we find ourselves having to oppose a different kind of industry on ALR land: cannabis industries that buy ALR land in rural areas instead of paying to be in the only place that is suitable for industries, the industrial parks.
As you discuss regional growth, please understand that the people of areas D and E do support development, but of a kind different from the one offered by industrial agriculture. We support development that enriches residents’ lifestyles, protects our air, water and soil, allows children to play outside without fear, allows salmon to run and screech owls to survive and does not devalue our properties.
Our areas have much to offer in the health sectors, ecotourism, art tourism and education, environmental education, traditional and organic farming methods, ecological forest management and other growth sectors that complement our OCP and differentiate us from industrial areas. A good model for the type of growth we are working towards is the Methow Valley.
We hope that RDNO’s growth strategy and RDNO’s Agricultural Committee can make room for this type of development.
Huguette Allen, Bee SAFE