Letter: More to smoky sky than meets the eye

Dear Editor,

Blood red sunrise, blood red sunset, low visibility — the skies have been looking downright apocalyptic lately. 

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Today has been an improvement, and I’m sure I am not the only one glad to see a hint of blue in the sky and shadows on the ground. 

While mostly sparked by natural causes, the severity of the forest fires can be traced back to climate change. 

Our winters are no longer cold enough to kill off the pine beetle, which leaves large swaths of standing dead trees. 

More rain falls over the winter and spring than previously, which causes abundant plant growth. 

When this is followed by arid summers, plant growth dies and dries. Combined with the tinder dry dead pines, it’s a perfect recipe for forest fires.

Now is a good time to think about climate change and what it means for us here in Richmond. 

We are fortunate to have the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), for our future food security. 

The ALR is a bank for arable land created over 40 years ago. 

It is not a requirement that the land must be farmed today, but rather that it is kept in reserve for agricultural purposes for when it is needed in the future. 

At the current pace of climate change affecting major food- growing regions, such as California, the ALR is widely seen as a prudent way to ensure we can produce our own food in the future. 

Since the ALR was created 44 years ago, farmland has been largely protected in Richmond.

However, in the last handful of years, speculative development has threatened our bank of agricultural land. 

Provincial guidelines recommend a single house with a maximum size of 5,382 square feet in Richmond (Zone 1 of the ALR). Our city council approved a bylaw that allows 10,764-square-foot houses in Richmond’s ALR, with the option to apply for additional square footage beyond that maximum.

I very much look forward to the six-month review of development on our ALR, with the hope that we can adjust the maximum home size downward to protect our land deposits in the ALR. 

Kelly Greene, Richmond

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