Cawston residents indicate opposition to land use issue

Contentious land issue in Cawston drawing signatures to petition

To the Editor:

The local community response has shown almost universal opposition to Cawston Cold Storage’s (CCS) application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to change a large parcel piece of prime agricultural land to non-farm use and build an industrial controlled atmosphere (CA) storage facility at the end of Cawston Main Street.

In a single week 110 Cawston residents have signed a written petition against this proposal and forty additional people have signed the online version. To date almost 300 signatures have been collected.

An informational flyer will be sent to the mailboxes of all Cawston residents this week and there will be additional opportunities to sign the petition at the Cawston store on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings of this week for those who have not yet had a chance to sign.

Legal advice is being sought regarding the multiple potential conflicts of interest of the local Area Planning Committee, which we now understand may include a desire to locate the proposed BC Organic Institute on the same site, a venture which two members of the local APC are deeply involved in. We hope to seek an injunction from the Supreme Court to prevent the APC’s recommendation to support the application from going to the ALC.

Several alternative sites to this proposal have been identified, one of which is already zoned industrial, is very close to the packing house and was recently offered to CCS, but was turned down purely on price, negating CCS’s statement that removing agricultural land is the only option for them and their spurious statements regarding carbon footprint.

This is a purely commercial issue. The controlled atmosphere storage will indeed hopefully be built locally, provide some employment for local people and allow CCS to prosper – all of which we fully support. The needless removal of yet more agricultural land – which is already being removed by stealth throughout our community as pointed out in Dave Curson’s letter to The Review last week – is the significant issue here.

The Agricultural Land Commission is expected to review this application in the near future and if approved CCS hopes to remove 80,000 cubic feet (300 truckloads) of topsoil to an unknown destination and pave two acres of land  with rock and concrete so it could never be used for farming again immediately after approval. A 28,000 square foot building, 32 feet high will be built at the end of Main Street and will be the new “Gateway to Cawston”.

It is also of interest that CCS hosted a meeting at Cawston Hall on 24 July regarding building a cidery from apple culls locally and it shouldn’t take too much imagination to think that an additional couple of acres of adjoining farmland will also be needed to be appropriated for this venture, which would bring with it thousands of tons of rotting apples and the associated pests to the heart of Cawston, rather than to an industrial area better suited for that purpose. Again the principle is fantastic – the location is definitely not.

This may be the last chance to oppose this application. Please come to the Cawston store on Friday, Saturday or Sunday evening and sign the petition. Find the facts regarding this issue and links to the online petition at cawstonlandandcommunity.blogspot.

Jim Bagley, Moses Brown, Jenn and Eric Ditmars, Jenny Edlington, Lesley and Skip Pendleton