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Making parks more useful --- food security 101

Posted by: Trevor

June 4, 2012

Metro Vancouver's recently announced "Experience the Fraser" mega-park is meant to provide recreation along a massive trail system from Hope to Richmond. And now, some people are worried that productive farmland will be sacrificed in the process.

Case in point: a large strip of land in Matsqui that is administered by Metro Vancouver --- currently being farmed productively, but now in danger of Parks encroachment --- campsites, parking lots, and trailer hook-ups (Matsqui Trail Regional Park Management Plan). Is this a good use of class 1 and 2 farmland?


This is Metro-Vancouver's proposed "Experience the Fraser" mega-park
Source: Metro Vancouver

The most productive farmland in the lower mainland falls into the Fraser River floodplain. Yet Metro-Vancouver wants to run a park throughout the entire length of it. How can this be good for farmland?

The problem is this: Metro Vancouver's mandate is to promote parks, not farmland. And that's why valuable ALR land is being swapped-out for recreational facilities. And that's bad news for regional food security.

It seems to me that food production should trump horse trails, RV parks, and dog bathing areas.

Besides, why can't public lands (like parks) be used to produce food?

Several years ago I asked the City of Abbotsford's arborist what sort of trees were being planted on city-owned land. Answer: ornamentals. So I asked "Why not apple trees?" (Apple trees are pretty, they attract bees, and they produce lots of food). She didn't like the idea.

The lower mainland of British Columbia contains some of the most productive farmland in North America. Yet over the past century, much of it has been lost to development (Richmond is a case in point --- about half its farmland is now lost).

Mega-projects (like "Experience the Fraser") which purport to be "green" may sound good, but in the end they could result in less farmland, and less regional food production. Is that a good thing for lower mainland residents? Maybe this project needs to be reconsidered.


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