Delta council would like to set the record straight when it comes to the Southlands.
Civic politicians have passed a motion to send a letter to the advocacy group Southlands the Facts asking it to stop saying the Corporation of Delta has the power to stop greenhouses from being built on the land.
That statement appears on flyers handed out by the group as well as on its website.
Coun. Robert Campbell calls the statement "absolutely untrue."
"I'd like to move that we send a letter to Southlands the Facts and ask them to present the facts and not make them up and that's what's happening here, they're making them up," Campbell said. "It's one thing to have your opinion and fight a fair fight and fight the good fight, but don't make things up, don't try and fear monger with the electorate by making up your own information.
"The Corporation of Delta does not have the ability to restrict agriculture, industrial agriculture, on this particular piece of land or on any land in Delta."
Last month, the municipality got a legal opinion on the matter. In a report to council, municipal solicitor Greg Vanstone said: "While it has been suggested that Delta council could rezone the Southlands properties to prohibit certain farm uses, the legal opinions indicate that there is a significant risk that such action could be challenged or its impact avoided by the property owner. Any legal challenge would involve Delta in a lengthy and expensive legal challenge and could result in a substantial damage award against Delta if it were successful."
George Harvie, Delta's chief administrative officer, said the move would be "bad policy and bad law."
Southlands the Facts does not agree. Spokesperson Dana Maslovat said the Ministry of Agriculture outlined that because the Southlands is not in the Agricultural Land Reserve, industrial farming practices can be prevented by local government nuisance bylaws.
He said Harvie and other Delta staff at a meeting in September confirmed this position.
"We were very specific on the wording that we used," he said, adding the group has read, and understands, the legal opinion.
"I don't believe that is inaccurate."
The letter from Delta also contains references to another flyer that had been mailed out to local residents.
Another group opposing any development on the land, the Save the Southlands Committee, recently distributed a flyer titled "Urgent Deadline to Save the Southlands," which included a copy of Delta's comment sheet for the application.
The municipality is concerned residents might think Delta distributed the flyer and issued a statement stressing the flyer is not a Corporation of Delta publication.
"The Corporation of Delta does not endorse the Save the Southlands flyer and was not involved in its distribution to Delta residents."
Maslovat said Southlands the Facts has no connection to Save the Southlands, and he wonders why it was mentioned in Delta's letter.
"It seems surprising and somewhat disappointing."
Earlier this year during a presentation to council, Century Group president Sean Hodgins made it clear that if his application were to be rejected, he'd have few options but to seriously consider starting an industrial agricultural operation on the property, clearly hinting at the possibility of greenhouses.
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