Catastrophic! Paradise lost! Essential, deserved and needed! Status-quo, golden for some, is intolerable for others. Change is our hot topic.
We need a baseline to evaluate change. What will be the real impact on our quality of life if the proposed changes swirling about us really occur? What scale measures the quality of life we enjoy in South Delta, and quantifies how change might impact it?
The Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) scale by which Vancouver is consistently ranked among the world's most livable cities assigns a rating of relative comfort for 30 qualitative and quantitative indicators across five broad weighted categories: stability (25 per cent); health care (20); culture and environment (25); education (10); and infrastructure (20).
Only infrastructure would be affected by proposed changes facing our community. That category includes seven indictors. Two of the seven, quality of road network and the availability of good quality housing, are affected by proposed changes.
If the EIU scale were applied, changes being considered could either positively or negatively change the quality of life we enjoy in South Delta by perhaps 10 per cent or less. The sky is not falling!
The impact on Tsawwassen's road network of proposed changes was studied in 2010. It was found that increased traffic generated by development, particularly on Tsawwassen First Nation land, may necessitate grade separation at 56th Street and Highway 17 by perhaps 2020 or 2030. Less costly and urgent improvements may be needed in other locations.
The MLS.ca website lists 147 residential properties for sale in Tsawwassen. Asking prices range from $198,000 to $2,880,000.
There may be more that are not listed by the MLS. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reports the median price of detached South Delta homes is $724,903, somewhat below the Greater Vancouver median of $887,471.
I find no EIU indicator dealing with the use of agricultural land. The culture and environment category includes an indicator for food and drink that might relate indirectly, but not necessarily to local agricultural land. Agricultural land use is not a factor in judging South Delta's quality of life. It must be separately judged by its impact on the larger market that the land could serve.
It seems to me the value of the food land produces, or can produce, might serve that purpose. Ignoring their capital cost, greenhouses likely top the scale. The B.C. Greenhouse Growers' Association says they produce 10 to 20 times as much vegetable as an open field of the same size, and are very frugal in their use of water.
At the bottom of an agricultural value scale would be land that lies fallow because it lacks adequate water, soil quality and reasonable access by farming equipment, or conflicts with neighbouring land uses. Higher on the scale is land with the potential of overcoming those impediments at justifiable cost, followed by land that is producing our food.
Bucolic views earn no place on this scale.
In future columns I will examine proposed changes so we may better judge their impact on our quality of life.