By Noel Muller & Adam Olsen
British Columbia has the ability to be completely food secure. In addition to having plenty of fresh water we are blessed with some of the most fertile growing regions and the most productive fisheries on the planet.
After putting forward Bill 18, the Water Sustainability Act, which by most accounts is balanced legislation that updates and protects British Columbia’s fresh water, it is time to turn to another basic need, our food supplies.
As the climate continues to change and weather events become more extreme, local and regional food security is a fundamental obligation of governments. British Columbians have every right to expect their governments will be stewards of the land and oceans to ensure food production long into the future.
For British Columbia, this means, at a very minimum, protecting farmland, and ensuring the abundance of wild fish stocks.
With Bill 24 the BC Liberal Government proposes to remove 90% of farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), without any public input. Furthermore, they have done very little to stand up for diminishing fish populations on the coast.
For the past decade the BC Government has stood on the sidelines watching the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) manage the overfishing of salmon and herring. The BC Liberals have encouraged the expansion of fish farms and have done nothing to address shoreline development and storm-water management that damages critical spawning habitat with every storm event.
Farming advocates and local food security networks are now standing up for the integrity of BC farmland, nevertheless, the greatest impact is when the public tells the government to leave the ALR alone.
On the coast the protection of the fish stocks has been left to First Nations and the courts to stand up to the destructive overfishing practices and mismanagement by DFO.
Why is the BC Liberal government weakening our local and regional food security? Why has the protection of our most vital needs fallen to community advocates alone? Decisions made now by the Provincial Government will affect the ability of our children to feed themselves.
British Columbia needs a government that is prepared to properly manage one of its most fundamental obligations, to ensure a consistent supply and quality of food resources within its jurisdiction.
Communities in British Columbia have been able to feed themselves for thousands of years. In 2014, we are now relying on food travelling from ever-increasing distances, weakening our food security. In addition, climate change will have uncertain effects on local and global food supply.
British Columbia is blessed with a favourable growing climate and conditions and resilient fisheries, there is no reason we can’t be entirely food secure in the coming decades. With only a few weeks before the provincial government debates Bill 24, the Agricultural Land Reserve Amendment Act, British Columbians to need to demand the BC Liberals protect and enhance our food security, both on the land and in the water!
Noel Muller is BC Green Party regional representative for the North Shore.
Adam Olsen is the Interim-Leader of the BC Green Party.
Noel and Adam are fathers and fishermen.
Courtesy Ingrid Taylor - Flickr - https://flic.kr/p/eKe32c