If you think giving in to Century Group's persistent demands to build houses on farmland will ease the pain of contentious land use discussions please consider the following.
Though perhaps the most discussed block of land locally, the Southlands is not unique. Many acres of local farmland are owned by speculators and developers and I believe Metro Vancouver's survey of land ownership will turn up some astounding results. Just a few of the many local examples of land owned by developers include:
1. Forty-seven acres held by a numbered company that is contiguous with the Southlands itself. On the east edge of Forest by the Bay, it is often mistakenly identified as part of the Southlands. The owners are no doubt very interested in what happens with Century Group's plans.
2. Three hundred and thirty acres between Arthur Drive and Highway 17 owned by Genstar Development Co. In the recent past it has made application for development of 163 acres of farmland into a multitude of uses, including medium density housing.
3. Forty-six acres currently for sale immediately south of municipal hall. As Ian Paton said recently, they don't even know who their neighbour at municipal hall actually is. This land, like much of Century Group's, has been left uncultivated for a number of years. Is that a reason to build on it?
4. Twenty-five acres currently for sale on the south side of the George Massey Tunnel. Look on MLS and you'll see this farmland is being directly marketed to speculators (and is priced accordingly).
5. Another "derelict" piece of farmland owned by Century Group is at the entrance to Tsawwassen between Highway 17 and 56th Street. A less than scenic vista for the approach into town.
6. TFN. Hundreds of acres of prime farmland now destined for two million square feet of retail and housing. No longer included as part of Delta but it used to be.
The list goes on and on. Be very wary of supporting any proposal that involves building houses on farmland because the total reverse will likely happen.
If Century Group were to get the go ahead from Delta, the owners of all of the other sites would no doubt be greatly encouraged and would try to move ahead with their own plans (TFN excepted, as it is obviously full steam ahead already). The problem would only get worse.
If you want to preserve and enhance what we all currently enjoy about Tsawwassen, then our local politicians have to be made to listen to the voice of the electorate. Every step of the way they have ignored polls, surveys, emails and letters that clearly show the majority of residents do not want to see the Southlands built on in any way.
Once speculators are told that farmland is not on the negotiating table, then the feeding frenzy will abate, farm prices will return to a realistic level and then maybe we can enjoy some peace around here.
The latest manifestation of Century Group's plans includes what developers are expected to offer to have any hope of getting the go-ahead -- community benefit agreements. In this case it would be the land it would give to Delta.
Century is not "building community" as it claims with its Southlands proposal but simply doing what developers do, building. We must take the opportunity now to send the message that we value Delta's farmland and wish to see growth contained to within current urban areas.
Send council letters, emails, etc., show up for meetings and hearings, and speak your mind. Vote at the next election for candidates that respect the majority and who wish for our farmland to be preserved.