Summer is when we take time out. As I was recently driving home from the B.C. interior along Highway 1 just east of Kamloops, I couldn't help but see many loaded trains - coal and containers - making their way along the railway track.
In fact we observed five trains in the space of an hour, all of which brings me to wonder about our beloved little piece of paradise we call South Delta.
We are under unprecedented pressure to develop. The pressure is to industrialize, to convert some of the best agricultural land in Canada into to an international transportation mecca. If not that, then build houses and shopping centres and consider garbage incineration. All of which is to say that agriculture and bird flyways will disappear.
The economics are clear: farmland is valued at say $40,000 to $80,000 an acre and land for houses is worth over $1 million an acre. The recent action where 558 acres were optioned for railways and industrial uses was done at $185,000 an acre.
This newspaper carried a story a week ago and followed with an editorial on Wednesday reporting on the looming shortage of industrial land in Delta. According to the report, available industrial land in Delta will all be taken within 10 years.
The report also stated the provincial government forecasts the South Fraser Perimeter Road will create 7,000 long-term jobs in and around Delta, all part of the government's job creation plan. The plan seeks in part to "increase road and rail capacity, and bulk and container capacity at B.C. ports."
Some say don't worry; we have lots of agricultural land. A closer look puts a lie to this. In the past nine years, the land in the Agricultural Land Reserve has decreased in six of those years. The additions have almost all been up north - Fort St. James, Prince George, Burns Lake, etc., where this former forested land has been wiped clear by beetle kill.
This land is not comparable to the Fraser Valley and to Delta where over 12,000 acres of prime farmland has been removed. The simple fact is that land comparable to Delta land is not found up north.
So the pressures to double Deltaport, to create a major railway yard, to build more roads, and make way for industrial parks, incinerators and shopping centres, are all upon us. A fundamental challenge is that many of these decisions to take the land for these purposes are being made in Victoria and Ottawa by expropriation legislation.
The decisions are being made despite what we who live here might want. They are decisions that senior levels of government can make "in the national interest" without even consulting us.
What will we do when we run out of land? How do we get to sustainable living? How does expropriating land - to expand railways - to ship containers of consumer goods from China to Chicago address the national interest?
It's time to speak up - to say if this is the change you want!
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