As people migrate to the Lower Mainland to live and work, homes become a premium, and development spreads into the Agriculture Land Reserve, shrinking it little by little. I remember hearing on the news many times of how the Regional District, municipalities and our Provincial Government were to keep a cap on these lands, but the need for expansion to build for the growing population trumps all. Perhaps our reliance on importing our food is the accepted way of thinking now as our region looses its ability to maintain itself little by little and the farmers who grow food crops disappear. Are we willing to pay for the added cost of importing our food abroad once our farmlands are consumed by industry and suburbia? Can the rest of the region even support us agriculturally if importing food become too expensive for us to buy? Well, a good friend just sold his land to make way for another subdivision, and even though his land is under the , ALR (Agriculture Land Reserve) the green light was given to the developer to go ahead and build away.
So I’m a little confused here? On one hand, land set aside for agriculture use is to be maintain because it makes sense to have the ability to grow food, we all need to eat–right? But on the other hand, we have this migration of people coming here who are attracted to the West Coast climate and lifestyle, plus jobs are plentiful–which has priority?
My friend was successful, in my opinion, because he was a good farmer. He had corn, hay and raised dairy cows–a very lucrative farm business I thought. I really admired him because he had inherited the farm from his father, and he kept the family business alive raising the bovine for their milk. But the taxes from the government and the cost of living on top of running it is what finally ended the family homestead way of life. The Mad-Cow scare, cost of feed and municipal taxes forced him to sell off to the highest bidder. I remember last month looking at his coffee table with over thirty letters from developers asking him if he was interested in selling. His Bank was also hounding him because he had mortgaged the land for financial support, a dumb move I thought, but what can you do when the Bank gave him the “Hi, we are your best friend…” spiel, and sucked-him-in with the lure of a pile of money.
For land that was almost worth a million dollars, he doesn’t have that much to show for it now that the papers are signed. The pecking order of hands ready to take his money in-lue of services and taxes took almost half of it before he could even see the first penny. Taxes were to be paid first, then the Banks fees, then middle men who lined up with form after form after form to be signed. He did find another home to move to, one close by about 12 kilometers, but that too was way over priced, and after he had paid for it, he may have enough to buy a car.
The tragedy is, he now has to adjusted to the different lifestyle. His pockets are still empty yet the home and buildings that will take his farm’s place will be worth millions. With our economy so hot, the Canadian Dollar two cents more than the US Dollar, and people moving here by the dozen, I fear a crash coming soon. For my friend, the land won’t be there for him to live off of anymore; and the rest of us: well? So when your corn and milk cost more next year, now you will know why.