The province has reiterated that there is no intention to change the status of the lands at this point.
That’s what the Delta Agricultural Advisory Committee was recently told by City of Delta staff who said they have spoken with the government about Brunswick Point and that there is nothing new to report.
Delta council last year agreed to send the province a letter of support for the Delta Farmers’ Institute’s correspondence supporting Delta South MLA Ian Paton’s private member’s bill he submitted the previous year, calling on the province to take steps to ensure the Brunswick Point lands remain agriculture.
“As you know a substantial number of productive farmland was lost in the Roberts Bank area. We have been fortunate for over a century that the 600 acres at Brunswick Point, with its fertile soil and proximity to the ocean, has produced high-quality vegetable crops while providing habitat and feed for millions of migratory birds. The community needs to know this farmland will remain as a public heritage asset in its natural environment and feed our population. It is an integral component of Delta’s agricultural base,” wrote DFI vice-president Jack Bates.
Mayor George Harvie wrote to Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, saying that despite the current restrictions on the land use, Delta is concerned that the lands could be sold to speculators with no interest in farming.
Donaldson in a letter of response stated, “We will continue to work collaboratively with the Tsawwassen First Nation and the City of Delta with regards to land management in Brunswick Point and will consider the interests of all parties when determining the long-term future of these lands.”
Noting the area faces uncertainty due to its proximity to the port and the potential for the land to be converted into industrial purposes, Paton, the Liberal agriculture critic, said his private member’s bill focused on the hundreds of acres of ALR land still owned by the province.
In 1968, 4,000 acres of prime farmland in Delta was expropriated to support a future port at Roberts Bank.
Many years later, after realizing the expropriated lands were not needed during that time, the province offered to sell most of the farms back to their original owners.
However, just over 600 acres of Brunswick Point farmland was held back by the Crown, only offered to the farm families who originally owned them through short-term leases.
Farmers and the city have been calling for longer-term leases.
Another concern, Paton noted, is that the Tsawwassen First Nation could eventually take over Brunswick Point lands and apply to have them removed from Delta to become part of the First Nation territory, since the lands are contiguous, paving the way for their removal from the ALR.
The TFN through its treaty has the first right of refusal to purchase the lands.
The DFI last year also raised concerned about the sale of almost 200 acres of lands at Brunswick Point to the TFN.