When I last wrote we left off with the Spetifore family facing a tax assessment on the estate reported to be $320,000 (Optimist, 1969), which in today's dollars would be well in excess of $1 million.
In 1964, the hay farm in Grand Forks was sold as was the 300 head of purebred Jersey stock, by public auction in 1965. One can draw their own conclusion on the affect of the tax assessment on the viability of the farm operation and the reason for the sale of the land and the dairy herd.
In 1968-69, the Social Credit government expropriated 4,000 acres in South Delta as back up land for the planned Roberts Bank superport. The 100 acres at 52nd Street and Highway 17 owned by the Spetifores was expropriated and removed from their land inventory.
While this was going on George Spetifore was outspoken about the United States and Mexico "dumping agricultural product" in B.C. and affecting pricing. He also railed against federal subsidies to eastern Canadian farmers that exported product to B.C., claiming unfair advantage.
George claimed their farm operation was no longer competitive.
He is quoted as saying there was only 135 acres suitable for crop farming.
The 535 acres was reclaimed from the receding salt waters of Boundary Bay. The soil has a high saline content mixed with 15 different soil types.
It should be remembered Delta, in those times, had its own gravity water works system with water towers, located at high elevations in South Delta (Tsawwassen) and Watershed Park (North Delta). It was not unusual to have poor water pressure for home use during summer months, particularly in the Tsawwassen area.
Farm practises in Delta are everevolving and in the 1940s-1960s there were numerous dairy herds requiring pasture and hay. Other crops grown in those times ranged from flax, various grains and hay to potatoes and peas.
There was limited use of irrigation systems, and only available from sloughs and ditches on the flatlands. During wet weather the natural waterways and ditching assisted with drainage. The Spetifore lands did not have access to municipal water for irrigation, nor any drainage improvements.
In 1971 George was openly attempting to develop the 535 acres for housing. Quadrant Developments presented a housing plan to Delta council, which forwarded it to the GVRD. The plan was rejected at that level.
In 1973, the acreage was placed in the ALR by the provincial government. In 1974, the Spetifores opened a potato storage and processing plant on Crescent Island (Ladner). Frustrated by competition from south of the border and Eastern Canada, this niche market faced layoffs and closure in 1978. The plant was then converted to fish processing.
George continued to explore development of the 535 acres. In 1975, Delta council entered into discussions and debate on the future use of this land. By a majority vote of council, the Corporation of Delta took a 60-day option to consider public purchase. The price was set at $12 million. The option was allowed to lapse without further action.
In the late 1970s George began to explore development of 220 acres of foreshore east of Boundary Bay Road and south of the Beach Grove residential area. This land was never in the ALR and a case could be made to expand south as part of the established urban community.
The GVRD became aware of this proposal, indicating its interest to establish a regional park on this acreage.
To be continued. And a good night to you, Peter.
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