Brenda Locke brings an interesting perspective to the controversy surrounding the federally owned farmland in Campbell Heights. A few facts have been left out of the discussion – up until now.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 24, 2022
The future of 300 acres of precious farmland and wildlife habitat hangs in the balance in Surrey’s Campbell Heights area.
220 acres of the property is undeniably among the most productive farmland in Canada, situated as it is in a microclimate and having soils ideally suited for the early production of potatoes, carrots, and other produce.
I have met with the Heppells’ on the farm and toured their production facilities that package and process the products of the farm. I have an appreciation of the complexity and challenges involved in this enterprise.
I am advised, the city has informally discussed the future of these lands with the Federal Government from time to time over the past 10 years. The property served as a telecommunication site, but no longer does so, and its future is currently under discussion.
It is disappointing that the mayor and some members of Council are publicly discussing the future of these lands in terms that place future discussions between the City and the Federal Government at risk.
The land is currently the property of Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada, (ISED) and the responsibility of the Honourable Francois-Phillippe Champagne, and deemed surplus to its needs. The land will be transferred within federal government departments to Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) as it is identified as land for disposal.
To do the right thing at this time is to communicate with ISED, The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, who at this juncture, still holds title to this valuable farmland. There is a compelling argument that the food production and food security that these lands offer the region is immeasurable. Putting this land in the Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR) will ensure that it will continue to produce quality food production for future generations.
Once the PSPC process is triggered, that process takes time and starts with extensive land claim discussions with First Nations, Kwantlen, Katzie and Semiahmoo and perhaps other Coast Salish FN. The process may take a year or more but is step one in any disposal of Federal land. After all discussion has occurred with First Nations the Province of British Columbia is next to be offered the property and it is only after the province has declined interest that the City of Surrey would be invited to the negotiation table.
Brenda Locke believes the land needs to be permanently protected by the Agricultural Land Commission and putting it into the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is the best way to achieve that outcome for future generations.
“I question the sincerity of Doug McCallum who clearly stated during the 2018 election that he would protect the Little Campbell River Watershed from future development and then broke his promise when he turned over 600 acres into industrial land.”
“Surrey has large tracks of underutilized Industrial Land that still needs to be developed to its full potential. Surrey’s industrial land strategy must focus on these underdeveloped lands and maximizing their use” Stated Locke.
Brenda would also like to investigate the possibility to protect more of the Little Campbell River Watershed as part of this process.
A common-sense solution is possible if we “get the right people in the room.” Two of Surrey’s ecological jewels can be protected for future generations.