Climate action news release

The Garden City Lands is a way for the community to take local action on some of the most important issues of our time. One of them is climate action. We can take action locally to achieve impact provincially, federally, and globally by enhancing our best-known carbon sink, the Lulu Island Bog. There is both functional and symbolic value to conserving and enhancing the Garden City Lands, an integral part of the main surviving remnant of that bog.

Garden City Lands Coalition director Carol Southgate put a great deal of effort into approach to boosting the province’s climate action efforts through peatland preservation. Since the minister responsible for climate action is also a Richmond MLA, she anticipated a productive partnership. After trying for several weeks, she eventually managed to meet with him, but the results were disappointing. The coalition directors met that evening and issued the following press release in response.


News release, Richmond, July 23, 2009

Hon. John Yap, BC’s Minister of State for Climate Action, is “reluctant to make any public statement” about conserving and enhancing a high-profile carbon sink, Richmond’s Garden City Lands.

Canada Lands Company, the federal land disposer, holds the title to the property and is currently renegotiating its future with the City of Richmond and the Musqueam Indian Band. In February 2009, the previous plans to develop the property were halted by the Agricultural Land Commission’s refusal to exclude it from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

Garden City Lands Coalition director Carol Southgate met with Minister Yap, who is also the MLA for Richmond Steveston, at his constituency office on Thursday, July 23. They agreed on the importance of peatland and discussed the climate-action role of the Garden City lands. Southgate described how the lands, an integral part of the main remnant of the Lulu Island Bog, have largely retained their peatland function as a carbon sink that reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Arzeena Hamir, a Richmond food security activist who is also a director of the coalition, made a written submission. It explained how organic urban agriculture, a proposed use, would enhance the lands’ value as a carbon sink. Hamir cited research showing that local organic food systems could “mitigate nearly thirty percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and save one-sixth of global energy use.”

Garden City Lands Coalition president Jim Wright also participated in the meeting. He referred to Minister Yap’s Climate Change web page, http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/climate/. It states that the two main fronts are adaptation and mitigation, “reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and enhancing carbon sinks . . . that remove carbon dioxide and other GHGs from the atmosphere.”

When asked whether he supported conserving and enhancing the Garden City Lands carbon sink, Minister Yap said that he could not comment until he had heard from the other side.  Wright pointed out that there is no other side, since almost no one would publicly oppose a proven kind of climate action. He said that the minister’s clear support would help because some who appear to favour climate action actually work against it. Mr. Yap said, “I would not be able to go forward on this.”

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