ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
March 29, 2012

The meeting took place at Lochside School and commenced at 7:05 PM.

1. A talk entitled “Understanding the ALR Regulations and The Right to Farm legislation” was presented by Jennifer Dyson and Roger Cheetham of the Agriculture Land Commission, MLA Lana Popham and Saanich Councilor Dean Murdock.

Jennifer provided introductory comments and Roger gave a power point presentation. The purpose of the ALC is to preserve agricultural land and to promote farming. Eighty percent of the ALC time is spent dealing with subdivision requests for non-farm land use. He outlined permitted uses of farm land and also outlined farm uses which municipal governments may prohibit (e.g. temporary sawmill, pet kennels etc.)

The purpose of the Farm Practices Protection Act (Right to Farm)  is to protect farmers, provide an alternative dispute resolution process through the BC Farm Industry Review Board, to find a balance between the needs of farmers and neighbours and empowers the FIRB to study, report on and make recommendations (e.g. propane cannons). Normal farm practices conducted as part of a farm business are protected against nuisance actions (odours, noise, dust and other disturbances). A summary of the complaint process through the FIRB was outlined.

Fill or deposit is permitted in the ALR if it is related to construction, maintenance & operation of farm buildings provided it does not cause danger on or to adjacent land, structures or rights of way, or foul, obstruct or impede the flow of any waterway. If fill is to be applied to more than 2% of the farm area then permission is required. Permission is generally given for certain operations such as greenhouses, composting, etc.

Agritourism is permitted when land is classified as farm under the  Assessment Act, use is temporary and seasonal, and the agritourism promotes or markets products grown, raised or processed on the farm. Agritourism guidelines are being developed.

A Partnership Committee on Agriculture and the Environment has provided a guide for building setbacks from riparian areas on agricultural land. It suggests a range of setbacks generally between 15-30 meters depending upon the type of agricultural activity. For some agricultural activities it can come down to 5 metres for constructed channels and ditches.

Lana Popham spoke next. She has encouraged more funding for the ALC so that the ALC can fulfill its mandate to promote farming. Because of insufficient funding this ALC purpose has not received proper attention.

Lana feels farming support is strong amongst our population. Local food production is supported as well. She lamented some of the fill deposit which has taken place in our region.

The issue with propane cannons in the Blenkinsop Valley is an interface problem. She recommends early dialogue when a problem is arising in an attempt to find common ground. She cited interface problems in other regions such as Langley.

Dean Murdock spoke next. He pointed out that Saanich has protected farm land by strictly adhering to the Urban Containment Boundary. Saanich provides water to farms at its cost to Saanich. Saanich has one of the lowest farm tax rates in the province. Saanich has a buy local policy at its facilities. Saanich has also approved the possession of hens on residential properties.

Dean supports the development of back yard gardens and community allotment gardens. He also supports the development of green roofs.

Dean feels that Saanich is probably unable to regulate the dumping of fill on ALR land. Contractors and their employees are subject to Saanich bylaws (e.g. tree removal, dumping).

The four speakers then gathered at the front and many questions were forthcoming from the floor. Some of the issues included:

Q:  Smaller farms, on average, are more productive than larger farms, so why not allow very large farm land to be sectioned off into smaller farms?
Panel Response:  Roger Cheetham and Jennifer Dyson disagreed with the statement and indicated that smaller farms, on average, are less productive than larger farms. One reason they cited for this is that historically owners of small farmland parcels tend not to farm it.
Q.  There were several questions about the use of propane cannons for farm bird control.
Panel Responses:
o    Mayor Leonard has recently written a letter to the Minister of Agriculture regarding the use of propane cannons
o    A municipal Farm Bylaw likely would not provide neighbours with relief from propane cannons.
Audience Input:
o    Beckwith Farm representative:  Beckwith Farm plans to use propane cannons only as a last resort. Several other predation control measures were outlined. The use of dogs has been very successful to control the geese. Saanich Police did not permit the use of firearms for predation control.
o    Audience member observation:  A conflict between farmers and bird habitat protection in Nebraska was described where dialogue led to resolution of the conflict. Encouragement was given for a similar process to take place in the Blenkinsop Valley.
Q.  When does Saanich intend to start realizing production from the acquired Panama Flats land?
Panel Response:  Saanich does intend to put Panama Flats back into production, but not before public input.
Q.  What does Saanich intend to do about the large deer population?
Panel Responses:
o    The CRD is in the process of putting together of Citizens Advisory Group to develop a Deer Management Plan.
o    A deer cull in another municipality was not very successful.
Audience Input:
o    Ray Galey, Farmer: As Vancouver Island now produces just 4% of its food; support for Island Farmers is sorely needed.  Deer and geese prevention measures and crop damages costs his farm $50,000 in one year, and he doesn’t know how he can continue.


The speakers were thanked and the guests departed at about 9:00 PM.

The minutes of the March 29, 2011 AGM were approved as circulated.

Directors’ Report

The BVCA volunteers and directors were thanked. Thanks was given to Dale Leeuw and Alex Hoole who both served as directors this past year but will not be living in this area this coming year. Sharon Stewart was thanked for her help with the all-candidates meeting.

Some of the topics which the directors have dealt with during the past year were outlined. These included the Pearce Crescent Playarea, garden expansion at Seven Oaks, proposed business alterations, BVCA policy re farm practices including propane cannons, the all-candidates meeting, an application to remove property from the ALR for a residential subdivision and a new entrance to Mt Doug Park trails off Blenkinsop.

Treasurer’s Report

Earl Hannan reviewed the 2011 Financial Statement, the Dec. 31, 2011 Balance Sheet and the 2012 Budget.

A resolution to approve the 2011 financial statements  was proposed and passed.

A resolution to accept the 2012 Budget was proposed and passed.

The Officers and directors of the BVCA were elected by acclamation as follows:

President – Barry Loucks
Vice President – John Emes
Treasurer – Earl Hannan
Secretary – Dawn Loucks
Director – Matt Belanger
Director – Duncan Chiu
Director - Devon Girard
Director – Charlotte Koettl
Director – John Lawler
Director – Sharon Stewart

New Business

There was a question about having two residences on a single property.

The meeting adjourned at 9:30 PM