posted by admin on Apr 26

By Edward Hill – Goldstream News Gazette
Published: April 21, 2011 11:00 AM
Updated: April 21, 2011 11:25 AM

Christina Willing opens the tall wire gate to what was once a community garden, now overgrown with broom and largely forgotten. She scowls at a sign that reads “Willing Park Closed.”

About 10 years ago the garden was abandoned, although the tall deer fencing and a broken down shed remains. But with homes and townhouses cropping up next door in Valley View Estates, Willing wants the community to get better use from the park that bears her family name.

“We already have a fenced in area for a garden. The rest is a natural area enjoyed by animals and birds,” says Willing, as she walks through a pasture that was once part of her family’s dairy farm.
Read the rest of this entry »

posted by admin on Sep 15

lands and farms are being taken over by housing subdivisions

This semi-rural area in a flood plain is subjected to heavy construction as houses are levelled, soil is scraped and farmers try to cope with the new reality.

There will only a chain link fence separating a herd of cattle from the new subdivision, with no buffer between city and country.

posted by admin on Aug 23

Dean Murdock
Saanich Councillor, and
Peninsula Agricultural Commission Liaison

Once again, our region is faced with the challenge of proposals to develop agricultural land for residential purposes. The market value of farm land as potential real estate is a tempting cash infusion for farmers struggling to maintain a profit.  But this is a short-term solution.  In the long run, it is no solution at all — and brings major consequences for future food production, land use, and our valued quality of life.

As our population grows, there is increased demand for development and pressure to break through our urban containment boundaries and encroach upon agricultural land. Many local governments in the province have done just that. But developing agricultural land to accommodate growth is killing the goose for its golden egg.  It compromises our food security and makes a mockery of our land-use plans (and the citizens’ input into them), while contributing to car-dependent sprawl.

Instead of paving our farmland for housing to generate real estate income, we should be looking for more ways to support our local farmers and their food production by keeping farming profitable. There are lots of options: creating “pocket markets” to sell local foods, encouraging local governments and businesses to bring in a “buy local” policy for events, and working with senior levels of government to create incentives for grocers to offer local food choices.

As we develop an Agricultural Action Plan, I welcome your ideas and suggestions on ways to support local farmers and encourage local food production.   Send me your ideas:

Buying local food doesn’t just support our farmers, it’s good for our health and environment too.  Local food is fresher and has a much smaller carbon footprint. Since it arrives fresh, it needs less (or no) preservatives.

Protecting and enhancing local food production starts with saving our agricultural land and maintaining our community’s urban containment boundaries. We have already planned, through public consultation, technical analysis, and council approvals, to concentrate future density in urban centres and to buffer farm lands from suburban intrusion.  It reflects our long-term commitment to a future that avoids further urban sprawl, reduces congestion and greenhouse gases, and ensures we have an abundant local food supply.

Let’s support our farmers and save our farmland.  Doing so will protect our quality of life, food security, our health, and our climate for now and future generations.

posted by Deb on May 31

Food tourism comes to Langford!

Langford is fortunate to be fairly close to the world-renowned destination for local food tourists – the Sooke Harbour House. A food tourist /journalist sought out the fine local food there, but also made a point of visiting a place in Langford where a foody feels at home.

In a newly published book, “The Locovore”,  Sarah Elton’s describes a generic cityscape when she, “took a wrong turn and ended up driving first through a commercial area lined with big-box American stores and then into a typical North American subdivision of single-family houses and two-car garages. The place was deserted. It felt like a Sunday night.”

Luckily, food tourism redeems this Victoria bedroom community as she describes how, “Finally after a few U-turns, I found my way to the [Smoken Bones] Cookshack. It must have been where everyone in Langford was eating that night, because there was only one spot left in the parking lot. Inside was like a bar during the Stanley Cup finals. …I picked up a rib and took a bite, It was absolutely delicious. … The meal was 100 percent local and unlike anything I’d ever eaten in a restaurant devoted to local food.”

She has glowing praise for Chef and owner, Ken [Hueston] because he “is committed to cooking with locally grown ingredients in a way that is accessible to everyone. …he believes that his restaurant epitomized a new local-food order in which food grown or raised nearby is the building block of all varieties of cuisines. And on Vancouver Island, chefs like Ken have led the way by enticing the public to eat regionally.”

This could be the first time Langford is mentioned in relation with the growing tourist trade in local food toursim. Too bad the author never wrote about what’s left of the very unique South Langford area where a couple of small productive farms and rural properties still exist, and where cows still graze on grass, chickens run free on the range and local food is growing. What an enticing and rare city scene would have been promoted to all the foodies out there.

This area is so far behind the development curve, that it is now on the front vanguard of a large growing trend to local food. But not for long – it has been disappearing and almost all of it is slated for development of suburbs in the race to be just another “typical North American subdivision of single-family houses and two-car garages”.

Reviewed by Deb Harper

UPDATE: Aug 17, 2011: Smoken Bones leaving Langford

posted by admin on Apr 26

anonymous wrote:

The following is a one-paragraph excerpt from the April issue of FOCUS Magazine by Gordon O’Connor p.15 who is the forest campaigner with the Dogwood Initiative. It just applies so beautifully to Langford that one cannot help but think of Langford while reading it.

“Vancouver Island is one of the crown jewels of this continent. It is widely considered to be among the most liveable places in the world. If offers the luxury of having urban centres in close proximity to temperate rain forestsbountiful farms and incredible recreation areas. This pristine environment has the ability to provide clean waterfresh airlocal food and a stable economy for generations to come and these are the priorities for which our local representatives [read councillors] should be advocating.”

Read the rest of this entry »

posted by admin on Mar 16

Former agricultural land to become subdivision in Langford


A 501-unit subdivision on a 13.9 hectare parcel at 936 Flatman Ave. was given Langford council’s blessing Monday night following a low-key public hearing.

To be known as McCormick Meadows, the proposal made by architect Herbert Kwan for Sydney and Gay McCormick, is to create 102 single family lots, 61 townhouses and 338 apartment units in five buildings of up to six storeys on the formerly agricultural land.
Read more:

RELATED: Houses planned for farmland

posted by admin on Mar 9

Happy Valley Lavender & Herbs | 3505 Happy Valley Road | Langford | Telephone: 250.474.5767

The Happy Valley Lavender Farm celebrates 100 years this March 23 2010! One wonders what Lynda Dowling’s grandfather was thinking during his humble start walking the E & N (now Galloping Goose) Railway line to check out this property in 1910 …

By 1925 he had married Lynda’s grandmother after meeting her at Witty’s Lagoon on a church picnic! At that time he was a gentleman farmer originally from England. He served on the local Metchosin Farmers Institute and School Board.

Lynda’s grandmother, also from England, soon became famous for her Strawberry & Raspberry teas and cakes with the Woman’s Institute. Lynda remembers there always was an apple pie on the back of her grandmother’s black & silver wood stove…

Happy Valley Lavender’s current Herb & Lavender garden theme began in 1983. Lynda moved onto the family farm in 1986 with an English husband and 10 month old son. She felt like she had come home, with all the neighbours she knew from childhood times. Lynda’s grandmother would have loved her gardens, particularly all the Sweet Lavender like England.

If you remember Lynda Dowling’s grandparents, please share your memories with her as they celebrate the centennial of their family farm. It’s their 22nd year of harvesting Lavender as a crop, and a great time to come check out their secret sanctuary gardens and nursery behind Lynda’s grandfather’s daunting cedar hedge!

posted by admin on Feb 18

Ten Langford properties seek removal from the ALR

UPDATE: The Commission made its decision on March 16, 2010 and the decisions were sent out in April.

See Details:

There was no public meeting.

In an email to Bea McKenzie, Roger Cheetham, Regional ALC Planner for the Island, Kootenay, and the North, reports the expected decision by the ALC Comissioners regarding 10 exclusion applications from landowners within the City of Langford has not yet been made, and that there will be a public meeting held.

“Hi Bea. No decision yet. The Commission is planning to hold a public meeting. I will provide details later when we have a better idea of the arrangements.
Roger Cheetham, Regional Planner
Ph 604 660 7020
FAX 604 660 7033

—–Original Message—–
From: Bea McKenzie
Sent: Monday, January 4, 2010 9:15 AM
To: Cheetham, Roger ALC:EX
Subject: Langford ALR

Good Morning Roger:

Please let me know the Dec.17th – 18th decision for the Langford ALR
exclusion applications results.

Proposed exclusion of ten Langford properties from the Agricultural Land Reserve

Currently before the Agricultural Land Commission are 10 applications to remove approximately 29 acres of prime farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in the City of Langford, BC.

For more than a year the community has been requesting an inclusive process, but there has been virtually none.

We are a less than one week away from the ALC Panel decision (Dec. 17-18, 2009) on ten removal applications in Langford.

Residents  can write to ask for a public hearing to:
Roger Cheetham,
Regional Planner
Ph 604 660 7020
FAX 604 660 7033

Photos: ALR Lands

No decision yet. The Commission is planning to hold a public meeting. I will provide details later when we have a better idea of the arrangements.
Roger Cheetham, Regional Planner


posted by admin on Feb 18

Farmland freeze needed now


From the Lower Island News, April/May 2010

B.C.’s Agricultural Land Commission has a moral duty to guard and improve the food supply.  So why do the commissioners shirk their duty?

The law allows removal of pieces of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) for well-documented reasons, but its main purpose requires commissioners to safeguard food-producing capacity and encourage farming.

Commissioners ignore that order. They let builders pave over big chunks of foodland.  The loss of  land has become so painfully obvious, and the need for nailing down a close-to-home food-supply system in a changing world has become  so urgent, that the commissioners now have only one honourable and practical choice:  To freeze all applications for removal of land from the ALR province-wide, until food-growing policy is sorted out by a public enquiry and action plan. A three-year brainstorm-break seems reasonable.

Between 1975 and 2003 the commissioners approved a net decrease of 35,500 hectares, 87,720 acres, in the reserve farmland of the Okanagan, the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island. On the Island alone, the decrease was 12,797 hectares.

In the part of B.C. where most of the people are concentrated, the shrinkage of  foodland has continued at a fast rate since 2003, and a thick file of convoluted arguments for ALR removal, couched in planning jargon, has accumulated in Langford, Cowichan and other Island places.

It’s time for commissioners to stand tall and really do their protective job, rather than just pretending to do it – a pretence that involves surrender to Premier Gordon Campbell. The Campbell government weakened the protection of foodland by splitting the commission into six regional agencies, each with the independent power to say yes or no to applications for removal.

The old province-wide solid group of land judges, or quasi-judges, stemmed the loss of prime farmland, which was bleeding away at 6,000 hectares a year when the Dave Barrett NDP government created the ALR in 1973. Premier Campbell sliced open six arteries and started the bleeding again.

Governments of all colours share some guilt for this disaster. “Liberals,” Socreds and NDP have all intervened at the top level, to curry favour with pave-it-over campaigners.  But Premier Campbell, the present culprit, is the worst offender. His fragmented panels, which meet separately and do not consider removal applications as a united body, have shown how vulnerable they are to pressure from municipal councils and land-speculator/developer lobbyists.

Arguably the lobbyists could make more money if they waited and thought longer, resisted sprawl which causes long-term expense to taxpayers, and concentrated development in high-density mixed-use nodes where big buildings could be insulated by rooftop gardens. Developers and land speculators are impatient, but it’s the job of the ALC to cool and re-direct the natural quick-money impulse. The scattered ALC tribunals should now join in a united front to support the long-term provincial interest, which takes account of great-grandchildren as well as contemporary yearners for wealth and comfort.

Might commissioners be politically punished for doing their job too well? They have little to fear. Arm’s-length agencies now have power to shame governments if they commit blunders, arrogances and sneaky tricks. Auditor-General John Doyle skewered Campbell and colleagues for violating the public interest when they gifted a forest corporation with millions in taxpayers’ money and trashed land-use and forest-conservation planning on a large tract of southwestern Vancouver Island.  Foodland guardians who show quiet courage are unlikely to get even a slap on the wrist from a government that seems headed for lame-duck status despite the long distance to next election.

“Food security” is a great slogan. It means growing food close to home. But unless we match actions to words, mouthing the slogan is a waste of breath. We need that three-year freeze on ALR removals, so we can feel our way into the evolving city-green design.

It isn’t just about commercial farms. Current eco-pressures – looming hikes in the cost of oil-driven long-distance food transport, climate change, economic hard times, numbers of fat couch-potato kids –  challenge land commissioners and all of us to brainstorm varied food-production patterns.

These range from high-intensity urban organic farms to rooftop vegetable beds above shoppping-mall/condo complexes, and networks of neighbourhood gardens protected within the ALR.

Healthful food for two daughters was among Michelle Obama’s reasons for planting a vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House. This rerun of Eleanor Roosevelt’s 1943 Victory Garden was partly driven by Mrs. Obama’s experience as a working mother when she sought a nourishing menu for Malia and Sasha, Marian Burros reported in The New York Times.

“Eating out three times a week, ordering a pizza, having a sandwich for dinner all took their toll in added weight on the girls, whose pediatrician told Mrs. Obama that she needed to be thinking about nutrition.”  Within months the girls shed weight.

Twenty-three fifth-graders from a nearby school will cultivate the garden, alongside the Obamas. The U.S. president will pull weeds. Sure, he has other things to do, but he needs his exercise.

Derelict car factories and abandoned houses and yards in the downsized automobile city of Detroit will be converted into mushroom sheds and urban farmland.

Hantz Farms will plant crops on 5,000 acres within Detroit’s city limits. The greening of Motown is one of many true stories about today’s trend toward growing food close to home.

City-green is maturing into a mainstream political force. Does this mean strong, decisive action, or gradual change in food habits, one family at a time?  Both.  One won’t work without the other.

We need to add to the ALR, not reduce it. Soil quality is not crucial. Refugees on the Aran Islands off Ireland’s West Coast made soil for crops and pasture by laying sand and seaweed on solid rock. Greenhouses and roof gardens must import soil. Roof gardens insulate buildings, conserve runoff rainwater, and reduce air pollution and energy costs.

Chicago has 2,500,000 square feet of green roofs, more than any other U.S. city. The green starts with a demonstration garden on the roof of Chicago City Hall. The city makes grants of $5,000 toward roof-gardens.

We need urban space dedicated to food-growing, from roof gardens to community garden-patches and plantations and orchards that supply food banks; and we need a political mindset that encourages such projects.

The rescue of 9.3 acres of endangered Saanich ALR food-land is a success story in the struggle to protect the food-production system from raids.

In 2001 the Capital Regional District, the owner of the Haliburton Road land,  was going to push its removal from the reserve and sell it for building 24 to 26 houses; but the Land for Food Coalition and the Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs persuaded Saanich to buy the tract for $400,000. and keep it green, with side-by-side commercial farms, gardening and cooking school and community organic farm staffed partly by volunteers.

A more loose-jointed but equally valid agricultural model is under threat in Happy Valley and Luxton, in the Victoria suburb of Langford, where developers have filed applications to take a number of food-land tracts out of the reserve and build hundreds of houses, hived away from a diminished array of food producers by “edge planning,” the currently fashionable Plannerspeak phrase.

Luxton Fair and Luxton Market are the show-windows for growers of herbs, garlic, tomatoes, strawberries and other crops in a district of mingled cottages, old farmhouses and horse barns – territory where a person used to be able to live in a garage while he built his dream-house.

Can this federation of small growers survive invasion by massed housing? ALC commissioners need the three-year time-out to find an honest answer.

Some people trust Langford city council to be the guardian that will purchase ALR farmland and keep it green, as Saanich municipality did for the Haliburton land. Hostile critics object that in view of Langford’s pro-development record, such a move would be equivalent to putting the fox in charge oi the henhouse.

This point can be argued out. If the commissioners observe a three-year freeze on ALR withdrawals, however, the argument won’t matter.

The current commissioners who will hear applications for removal of Island lands from the ALR, Lorne Seitz of the Okanagan, Jennifer Dyson of the Alberni Valley and Niels Erik Holbek of Black Creek, are all commercial farmers. Their background may incline them to judge ALR land on a narrow conventional-farm basis, and to regard municipal councils (some of whom were elected by less than 25 per cent of eligible voters) as representing public consensus.

Both these ideas are outdated. The public and the commissioners would benefit if people urged the commissioners by snail-mail to reconsider their approach. Why not look them up and give direct persuasion a try? Making a pitch through the commission’s office has proved itself to be mostly a waste of time.  -30-

Both these ideas are outdated. The public and the commissioners would
benefit if people urged the commissioners by snail-mail to reconsider their
approach. Why not look them up and give direct persuasion a try? Making a
pitch through the commission’s office has proved itself to be mostly a waste
of time.


G.E. Mortimore, Ph.D., is a writer and social anthropologist based in
Victoria. Portions of this article have previously apperared as comment columns in
The Goldstream News Gazette.

posted by Deb on Dec 14

Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 12:03:23 -0800
From: Deb Harper
Subject: ALR Land removal – Happy Valley Road


To Whom It May Concern:

As a resident in the Luxton area, and a local food advocate, I am writing to express my concern with the proposal to remove properties (the majority on Happy Valley Road) from the ALR.

Langford is a large urban area with no provision or plan to deal with looming food problems which, according to many, many reports, will occur in the foreseeable future. Once land is developed, it can be impossible to restore and rehabilitate it back into viable food production – in other words, decisions which are irreversible and affect not only us, but our children and grandchildren’s future, need to be considered with very careful deliberation.

I submit that any decision to remove land from the ALR be tabled until research and assessments are done to determine the existing ratio of land for food production per person. It is more than possible that there is a severe land shortage for this purpose, and without food security, we have no other type of security, so please give this matter the attention it deserves.

I developed a website to support backyard gardening and city-wide food plans and provide links to existing resources. I hope to present more information once we determine the amount of interest there is for a Langford Food Plan. Those associated with this project are working in a volunteer capacity, so much of the work gets done when time permits.

Deb Harper
South Langford resident

Forget oil, the new global crisis is food
BMO strategist Donald Coxe warns credit crunch and soaring oil prices will pale in comparison to looming catastrophe
UK: This week, Mayor Boris Johnson of London announced a plan to convert more than 2000 parcels of land around the city into green spaces for growing food.
Higher oil prices, freak weather, low food reserves and growing consumer demand are affecting food supplies all around the world.
Catastrophic Fall in 2009 Global Food Production
Global Research, February 10, 2009
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 13:15:28 -0800
From: Matthew Baldwin
Subject: RE: ALR Land removal – Happy Valley Road

Ms. Harper,

Thank you for your email.

While the City of Langford is currently reviewing applications that land owners in Langford have made to the BC Agriculture Land Commission (ALC) with respect to exclusion from the ALR, the decision whether or not land is removed from the ALR rests solely with the ALC, and not with Council for the City of Langford.

I would suggest that you consider writing to the commission at:

Provincial Agricultural Land Commission
133-4940 Canada Way
Burnaby, BC
V5G 4K6

Matthew G.S. Baldwin, MCIP, RPP
City Planner
City of Langford
2nd Floor- 877 Goldstream Avenue
Langford, BC
V9B 2X8
Phone: 250 474-6919
Fax: 250 391 3436

From: Deb Harper
Sent: February 13, 2009 10:09 AM
To: Matthew Baldwin
Subject: RE: ALR Land removal – Happy Valley Road

Matthew Baldwin wrote,

>While the City of Langford is currently reviewing applications that
>land owners in Langford have made to the BC Agriculture Land
>Commission (ALC) with respect to exclusion from the ALR, the
>decision whether or not land is removed from the ALR rests solely
>with the ALC, and not with Council for the City of Langford.

My research led me to believe that without approval from Langford,
the applications could proceed no further:

If the land under application is zoned for agricultural or farm use,
or if your proposal requires a bylaw amendment, the local government
Board or Council decides whether to authorize your application to
proceed to the Commission. If authorization is not granted, your application proceeds no further.

Could you please clarify if the statement on the ALC site is
incorrect or if I am misinterpreting it?


Deb Harper

Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009 12:35:12 -0800
From: Matthew Baldwin
Subject: RE: ALR Land removal – Happy Valley Road

No. If you want clarification on ALC processes, please contact the ALC.