By Norm Macdonald, MLA for Columbia River–Revelstoke
There is a battle cry that has been ringing throughout the Kootenays over the last number of days as people across this region stand up to fight to protect our agriculture lands. What people are saying is Kill Bill 24!
On March 27, the BC Liberals, led primarily by the Kootenays’ own Bill Bennett, introduced Bill 24, legislation that could effectively eliminate the protection of any agricultural lands in this area. And, in what Mr. Bennett undoubtably believed was a terribly witty comment on food production in our area, he claimed that the only thing that grows in this area is hay.
Anyone who has attended a local farmers’ market knows that there is a tremendous abundance of food grown in this region. And anyone who has stood in a long line-up in front of a produce stand on market day knows that the demand for locally-grown produce is very strong.
What we need is access to more agricultural land, not less. What we need is more support and assistance for farmers and ranchers, not less. And what we need is more incentive to increase food production and develop facilities for food processing and storage, not less.
But rather than responding to our desire to improve access to locally-grown food, this government has complicated meat inspection regulations for small-scale producers, refused to assist local ranchers in developing community-based abattoir facilities, and made it even easier for existing agriculture land to be removed from the protection of the Agricultural Land Reserve.
We are becoming more and more aware that our current food system, which relies on industrially-produced food travelling over vast distances, is not sustainable. And forward-thinking agricultural pioneers in this area are doing their best to develop a sustainable local food system right here in the Kootenays.
If you support local food production, it’s time for everyone of us to say Kill Bill 24! We may find that 30 years down the road saving this agricultural land today is the best way to ensure we can feed ourselves in the future.
Tell the Premier what you think by sending an email to email@example.com. Don’t let this government take away this precious local resource.
Norm Macdonald is the MLA for Columbia River–Revelstoke