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Delta leases out 600 acres of city-owned farmland

Harvie Southlands
Mayor George Harvie on the Southlands property.

As part of its commitment to farming, the City of Delta owns a number of agricultural properties that it either leases or licences for farming purposes. 

There are currently seven city-owned properties totaling approximately 243 hectares (600 acres) being farmed for soil-based crop production. The leased parcels are found in various locations, including near Boundary Bay Airport and on the Southlands.

The Southlands property was secured through negotiations during the consideration of the Southlands development proposal. As part of its overall development plan, Century Industries Ltd. gave Delta 111.5 hectares (276 acres) of agricultural land, which was then added to the Agricultural Land Reserve. 

A majority of the agricultural land is being leased to Brent Kelly Farms Inc., except for an 18.3-hectare (45-acre) Community-Based Farm District on the east portion that is being leased by Century, which also provided a $9 million amenity contribution that’s being used to complete drainage and irrigation improvements to the agricultural land.

In the last three years, Delta has hired Brent Kelly Farms Inc. to complete improvements to the agricultural land, including land clearing, soil spreading, ditch cleaning, laser levelling and drain tile installation.

Delta council actively supports the farming community and opportunities for farming through its stewardship of agricultural land along with other initiatives. These activities take place with cooperation and input from the local farming community represented by the Delta Agricultural Advisory Committee and the Delta Farmers’ Institute.

Other Delta initiatives include ongoing work on the Agriculture Adaptation Strategy, strengthening communication and preparedness for flooding events, tracking agricultural water demand and supply, and supporting the Delta Farmers’ Institute soil salinity monitoring project. 

Delta also provides financial support to the Delta Farmland & Wildlife Trust, which promotes preservation of farmland and wildlife habitat through co-operative land stewardship with local farmers.

Delta helps build local awareness and education around agriculture through its website and by supporting programs such as Project Pickle which teaches students how to grow, harvest and prepare food.

The crop sign program, managed by the Agricultural Advisory Committee, has been a popular effort to promote agricultural awareness for several years. The program involves the installation of signs that identify crops planted by local farmers.

Delta will begin updating the Agricultural Plan later this year in order to revise the vision and strategies in the 2011 document that supports agriculture in the community. This important work will consider current day challenges while looking ahead at opportunities to adapt when needed.

Work is also underway to review Delta’s agricultural zoning to ensure it reflects recent changes to provincial legislation. 

Local farmers are involved in the direction and decision-making around these initiatives through the work of the Agricultural Advisory Committee, the Delta Farmers’ Institute and ongoing dialogue with council and city staff.

“Agriculture is an important part of Delta’s economy, culture and heritage,” said Mayor George Harvie.

“Council works hard to protect agricultural land for future generations and to provide support for food security in the community.”