Congratulations to the District of Saanich for showing leadership in the Capital Region by looking for ways to establish a farmland trust.
When I was on Council in Central Saanich we unsuccessfully petitioned the Capital Regional District (CRD) to investigate creating a Regional Farmland Trust. The regional farmland program can be set-up similar to the Regional Housing Trust Fund, a service the CRD has successfully operated since 2005.
As Saanich Cllr. Dean Murdock rightly asserted (Times Colonist – February 22, 2014 – Farmland Trust urged for Saanich), the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) has been an effective land use tool; now it is time to nurture and enhance the business of agriculture, and develop tools to address major challenges of the industry such as the cost of land.
A farmland trust is an important step forward. The CRD’s housing trust fund is a successful model that has secured critical investment partners to develop a range of housing options across the region; a regional farmland trust fund would provide farmers increased access to expensive farmland.
Hopefully Central Saanich partners with Saanich and the CRD steps up to coordinate a regional approach to secure farmland and create greater regional resilience through increased local food production.