Doug Gets It Done! – Motion to remove Surrey’s Campbell Heights farmland from Official Community Plan and designate it as Agricultural

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SURREY: Acknowledging Surrey’s unique Campbells Heights 300-acre farmland located at 192nd Street and 36th Avenue as “a vital piece” of fertile land, Mayor Doug McCallum had pledged in late June to keep it sacrosanct after a group of farmers called on the federal government for not selling it to developers for industrial development. The farmers also made a request to the City to amend its Official Community Plan.

Mayor is keeping his promise to the people of Surrey and the farmers. On July 11th, 2022 Mayor Doug McCallum and Safe Surrey Coalition will bring forward a motion that will remove these lands from the Campbell Heights Official Community Plan and designate the lands as Agricultural. “Furthermore, we will advocate to the Province to include these lands inside the Agricultural Land Reserve,” said Councilor Allison Patton.

“Protecting high yield agricultural land is fundamental to ensuring future food security in the region and the Province. These lands are currently zoned Agricultural (A-1) and I’m determined to see this land designated as Agricultural as part of the Official Community Plan (OCP) review process taking place next year. This farmland is estimated to produce more than 50 million servings of vegetables each year,” said McCallum in a statement.

A group of farmers in Surrey launched a petition to protect the land they farm, billed as one of the most productive in Canada, from being sold and converted into industrial property.

The petition which had close to 26K signatures, started by Tristin Bouwman, mentioned that the farmland is located on 192nd Street in Campbell Heights, Surrey BC is sadly, “slated to be sold and developed into industrial buildings,”

According to the petition, “Unlike other farmland in BC, this parcel is not protected by BC’s world-renowned Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Not only is the land not in the ALR, the landowner – the Federal Government – is not bound by the ALR’s farmland protection system.”

A coalition of farmers, residents, farmland advocates and others called on the Federal Government to keep all 300 acres of this parcel in agriculture, forests and streams – by granting a long-term lease to a local farmer and applying to the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission to include it in the AL. The also called on the City of Surrey to amend its Official Community Plan to prevent the land from conversion to any use other than farming and forest. 

Mayor McCallum and his council were quick to respond. He said, “The fertile land in question at 192nd Street and 36th Avenue is a vital piece of farmland that should remain untouched. If the federal government were to make this property available to the City of Surrey, I would ensure an offer would be made. If successful, I would pledge that the property would remain as farmland so it can produce harvest after harvest for generations to come.”

In couple of weeks, Mayor and his council are all set to introduce the motion to protect 220 acres of farmland from Industrial development.

The petition had stated that with its beach-like sandy soil upon a level hill-top, the land never floods, it can be planted or harvested on nearly any day of the year and has a special a micro-climate suited for early production. Western Canada’s potato harvest starts on this farmland each year.

Bouwman said, “an estimated 30-50 million servings of potatoes, carrots, cabbage, parsnips and squash are produced from the land annually. That’s enough fresh food to put a vegetable serving on every Metro-Vancouverite’s dinnerplate for 2-3 weeks. As harvest begins  before other vegetable fields in BC, this land reduces BC’s reliance on imported vegetables.