Colony Farm Regional Park.

Planned academy at Colony Farm advances

Critics of proposal fail to sway Metro directors

Metro Vancouver directors are giving the green light to a farming academy in Colony Farm Regional Park despite opposition from environmentalists who fear bird and wildlife habitat will be lost.

Members of Metro’s environment and energy committtee and the parks committee unanimously approved the plans, which are initially limited to development of a 37-hectare starter academy of small-plot farms.

The aim is to foster urban agriculture and sustainable food production.

But the Burke Mountain Naturalists raised objections that it sets a precedent to potentially till over other regional parks for agriculture.

“The suggestion this could be the thin edge of the wedge for other parks is simply a non-starter,” said Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew, who sits on the environment committee. “We’re talking about specialty small plot development for educational purposes.”

Environment committee vice-chair and Surrey Coun. Linda Hepner also defended the decision, noting Metro Vancouver agreed future uses must reflect the property’s agricultural roots when the regional district acquired the Colony Farm lands in 1993.

Colony Farm was once a prize-winning dairy and livestock farm, operated by psychiatric patients from Riverview Hospital.

“This land was the land that was originally farmed,” Hepner said of the planned academy footprint. “What’s proposed there is perfectly compatible.”

Hepner called it an approval-in-principle and said she will be keeping a close eye on the potential costs of the project.

Metro plans to spend $5 million on the Colony Farm Academy, which includes spending on irrigation and drainage upgrades, a visitor services centre, a starter farm service centre and other infrastructure.

“When you start to do something like an academy of agriculture, what does that actually mean in terms of costs to the taxpayers?” she asked.

The farming academy plan had been several years in the works, but was shelved for some time to allow discussions with the Kwikwetlem First Nation over possible land claim implications.

Metro officials say the band has had a strong role shaping the plan.

Environmentalists had also criticized the use of Colony Farm for construction of salmon habitat channels to compensate for damage from the construction of the new Port Mann Bridge and Highway 1 expansion.

A staff report says Colony Farm has some of the richest soils in the province and it could support small labour-intensive crop farms, along with the on-site sale of farm products.

The committees’ recommendation must still be approved by the Metro board later this month.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

‘Not the first time’ for driver clocked at excessive speed in South Surrey

Police say vehicle was doing 148 km/h in 80 km/h zone

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

Surrey BIAs to get cash help from city hall

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum announced this on Monday

‘Loophole’ allows U.S.-Canadian citizens to continue to meet at Peace Arch Park

According to immigration lawyer Len Saunders, there’s nothing the province can do about it

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Tsilhqot’in Nation demands meeting with feds on declining Fraser River chinook stocks

The Nation wants to partner with DFO to rebuild and recover the stocks

PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

Resist Canada 153 highlighted colonization and genocide, Unify the People called COVID a hoax

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

Northbound lane of Coquihalla closed after vehicle incident near Hope

A northbound lane is closed just north of the Great Bear Snowshed, according to DriveBC

‘A little bit scary for everybody’: Air passengers wary as new rules take effect

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights since April 20

River centre says heavy rains could bring flooding to central, northeastern B.C.

Water levels are already unusually high and river banks can be extremely unstable

Most Read