Obligations to future generations

My article Earth will survive; humans may not complained about destruction of prime agricultural land near Fort St. John and in Surrey. I referred to flooding of 80 some kilometers of the Peace River Valley and the loss of yet more farmland in the lower mainland.

Years ago, Damien Gillis wrote about the value of the Peace River lands that will be lost to create unnecessarily expensive electricity:

…agrologist Wendy Holm and soil scientist Evelyn Wolterson argued that BC Hydro’s error-ridden study of the flood zone for the $10 billion proposed Site C Dam missed the unique soil and climate values that would enable this land to feed up to a million people – were the focus to shift from hydropower to farming.

In 2012, Barry E. Smith, a policy planner with BC’s Agricultural Land Commission, wrote A Work in Progress – The British Columbia Farmland Preservation Program. In it he noted:

Less than 3% of the province’s land area has an agricultural capability allowing a range of crops… Within the same narrow valleys that are so agriculturally productive, there has been an historic competition for a variety of settlement uses – urban, industrial, parks and recreation, and supporting infrastructure. The valleys also hold significant habitat and environmentally sensitive areas.

Prior to the Barrett Government’s Agricultural Land Reserve in 1973, the province’s small stock of prime farmland was being rapidly lost to urbanization. Additionally, Barrett’s NDP worried about food security and wanted to avoid heavy dependency on external sources of food. No longer are those issues worried about in Victoria.

Following the NDP’s short reign in the 1970s, the ALR was shifted by Socreds, Liberals and New Liberal Democrats away from the original goals of farmland protection. The agency began serving as a way to maintain an orderly marketplace that allowed maximization of profits when influential parties converted land use from agricultural to other uses.

Farming on lands south of the Fraser River has continued to decline but fortunes have been made by speculators and developers. Dave Barrett and Bob Williams would be greatly disturbed.

In Yahey v British Columbia, the Supreme Court ruled that cumulative effects from decades of industrial development on lands of northeast BC infringed treaty rights of Blueberry River First Nations.

I suggest that cumulative effects from decades of industrialization and commercialization on lands of southwest BC infringe on the implicit rights of future generations.

Categories: Environment

1 reply »

  1. More flooding potential for the Fraser Valley. More drought in California. Where will we get our food if the Peace Valley is flooded? Certainly not from off the continent, with raging heatwaves not only destroying crops but destroying the seed supply for future years. With fuel being used to fight wars, shipping goods across oceans is not a wise way to feed any country, but starvation demands we look after not only our own citizens but those displaced into camps and dependent on supplies of food from whoever can still grow it. Canada still has that capability, if only we protect our water and land to grow food.


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