Optimal community value – CLC

This post is written by guest blogger Carol Southgate of Richmond. A blueberry grower, Carol is a member of the Richmond Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Now that the Agricultural Land Commission has shown foresight in its decision to retain the Garden City Lands in the ALR, it is time for Canada Lands Company to revisit its mandate, which emphasizes “optimizing community value.” The mandate is to ensure the orderly disposition of federal properties to “produce the optimal benefit for the Government of Canada and local communities.”

When the property was put in its charge, Canada Lands Company may have thought high-density development on the Garden City Lands was optimal, but that was four years ago. Much has changed. Today, a more appropriate use would include food production and its related businesses, as water shortages are looming to the south.

In California, the main source of irrigation water is expected to go dry this year. Drought will affect up to one million acres of farmland. Water rationing may limit the planting in the most economically productive farm state.

Dwindling imported produce, with increasingly higher prices, is inevitable, and we will need to increase our local food production. Luckily, the Garden City Lands are eminently suited for urban agriculture, which entails farming smaller parcels of land organically. Community farms and gardens can help meet this need with benefits to our health and economy.

As a grower, I am very conscious of the food production aspect, but I agree with preserving areas as natural habitat as well. Walkways would enable people to enjoy the habitat without disturbing it. Medical researchers and psychologists are discovering many benefits from living close to nature, including stress reduction and improved physical and emotional health.

Retaining part of the site undisturbed would also address climate change. The Garden City Lands are largely peat bog that stores significant amounts of greenhouse gases. The high-density construction would have released them, including a great deal of methane, which is twenty times as potent as carbon dioxide. The urban agriculture, habitat, and recreational uses would preserve the lands’ environmental value.

While writing this, I walked through the Garden City Lands, bringing together the public’s suggestions, my own knowledge, and what the lands themselves told me. Planning communities to create sustainable agriculture systems and provide greenspace is not only possible, it’s essential.

In managing this property under its care, Canada Lands Company will arrive at a similar view if it too reflects deeply about optimal benefit, keeping faith with its mandate and the Richmond community.

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1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Don Ahrens Says:

    Hi Carol,Looks like you are doing well.Keep up the good work,Don


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