Re: “Farmer fined for 41-year-old sign,” News, June 13.
What a sad headline in the Richmond News. Instead of supporting farmers, the City of Richmond seems intent on collecting permit fees from monster houses being developed on farmland. So, despite the W&A sign having been in place during strawberry season for 41 years with no problems, the bylaw department now chooses to not use its discretionary power to support the tradition of farming in Richmond. Why?
Farms, not 20,000-square-foot houses, build communities. For a city that talks about community and environmental sustainability, city hall’s actions certainly seem incongruous. Our city ranks low in health because of isolation (“Health in Richmond compromised by lack of connectivity,” Richmond News Dec. 4, 2015).
What a great tradition to go berry picking — you get to meet others from your community, join in a common experience and create traditions for kids, while teaching them about food security and the hard work that growing and harvesting food takes.
Bill Zylmans’ sign was a community tradition. As he noted — the sign benefited all the farms. I would go further and say it is a good reminder to all of us of our community’s farming roots. Comparing election signs to a strawberry season sign shows a lack of understanding of the larger issue at hand.
I have just come back from picking strawberries at the W&A Farm — a treat to be in the field with the sun shining and have fresh strawberries to share with friends and family. However, like Mr. Zylmans, I am rather disheartened. In a city where houses sit empty, where developers cut down trees and pay a minimal fine or no fine at all, surely we can support a farmer who has dedicated his life to the land and farming to provide food for the local community.
Let’s get our priorities straight. I hope city hall will send us a “sign” that it understands what matters to Richmond citizens.
I wish Bill Zylmans all the best in his struggle with city hall and hope he knows his efforts at farming and fighting city hall are appreciated and supported.