Industrial versus agricultural use of land

Discussion of land use in the Similkameen

Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) was put in place to secure viable land for food production in B.C. Implementing this commission has saved thousands of acres for food production, hay and ranching. The activities on said land is used according to the type of farming one does on it.

For example, feed lots, hay barns, wineries, canneries, etc. Wineries are a good example of value added product to increase a vineyard crop. As well cold storages are needed to help market perishable fruit and vegetables. In either case buildings are needed to house the many activities to insure marketable products. Without these the hay would spoil in the weather, grape prices would be marginal and some of the fruit and vegetables would rot before it could be sold because of a glut in the markets.

Having said this, I wonder why some Cawston citizens are against having a CA (controlled atmosphere) storage built! Especially when there isn’t one available nearby and the CA facilities which were once used by CCS are no longer available to them. I would not consider a building for cold storage as an industrial plant; I would say it is more directly related to the agricultural industry just as a winery building is. Many acres have been used for all sorts of buildings on farm land. I would encourage the land commission to create a mandate to allow cold storages to be built when necessary on ALR, especially if there are no designated industrial areas in the community. Cold storages are also being built on farm land where there are fruit stands which is another way of marketing our produce in the valley.

So what is all the fuss about? I believe in this case it is a matter of having the facility too close to these disgruntled citizens. As well, the land in question has been farmed conventionally as opposed to organically for the past two years and prior to that it was a hay field for the past twenty or more years. This means pesticides and herbicides are being used on the land in any case. Do we care if those chemicals are being used on the land?

Cold storages are a key component of the agricultural industry and in the future where they would be located would be a matter of developing an industrial plan for our community through dialog with the RDOS and go through proper channels to establish such a mandate. We know that to be successful in agriculture of any kind it is a matter of supply and demand. CA storage allows the farmer to hold its product longer for the maximum price, as opposed to having to settle for whatever they can get when there are too many apples within the market. When you can sell apples in February and March the price and the markets are at a premium price which in turns allows them a sustainable marginal profit.

Living in a farming community is not the same as living in the country side on an estate. It is a working community with machinery, influx of workers and necessary facilities to augment the job at hand. This valley is blessed with the best produce in all of Canada; we pride ourselves in this and have made every effort to brand this valley as such. Yes, we need the ALR but we also need to make a living on our farms, without cold storages, wineries, fruit stands etc. it would not be possible to sustain our livelihoods. We are limited to how much land is available for these kinds of facilities. It may be time to start looking at making a future plan for our beautiful valley then perhaps these issues would not come up and our citizens and friends would not have to be divided on such issues.

Doe Gregoire has owned and operated a certified organic farm from1988 -2008 and is presently living on her farm.