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Letters: ALR is no sacred cow

A Richmond News reader has his own opinion on the use of land in the ALR
Christian Dietrich with Ecowaste hopes, now that their east Richmond land is out of the ALR, they can build a large recycling facility.

Dear Editor,

Re: “Province allows 150 acres out of the ALR,” News, March 9.

I agree with council members, in that they should not have been left out of the land-use discussions loop when Ecowaste did an end run around them to secure its landfill/development site in East Richmond from the province.

However, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad decision.

In spite of being within the ALR, it evidently has not been farming-viable if construction waste has been piling up there for decades. And who is going to remove metres of waste to make it so, when Richmond is full of under-utilitized exposed prime top soil?

Sustainable local agriculture should be part of a broader sensible land-use strategy, where poor or damaged land can be repurposed (slab-floor greenhouses and food processing being two recent hot topics) and still remain under general agricultural use.

Every day I pass genuinely good farming land that is not being optimized — if farmed at all. This would be unimaginable in most other parts of the world.

I’m all for local agriculture and preserving (and using) land for it, but treating ALR land as a “sacred cow,” just because it falls within certain land parameters, isn’t necessary.

Mansions notwithstanding, as we enter a period of potentially severe food insecurity globally, the City of Richmond might focus more on fostering sustainable uses for agricultural and other lands in ways that optimize the genuinely good land that is just sitting fallow because the billionaire owner can afford not to farm it, or there are not enough farmers out there.

These apparent gaps are opportunities in front of our eyes. Serving existing farmers by providing discounts on irrigation water is just one other unrealized opportunity.

Glen Andersen