Public Input ReportPublic Workshops and Written Submissions Summary
Three Farmers Workshops and one Public Open House were held in May and June, 2000 as part of the Richmond Agricultural Viability Strategy. The intention of these events was to:
- educate participants to the work of the Richmond Agricultural Viability Strategy to date;
- receive input on agricultural issues; and
- begin the process of generating solutions to agricultural viability constraints in Richmond.
The Farmers Workshops were organized by major agricultural area East Richmond, McLennan, and Gilmore and were designed primarily for farmers. The Public Open House was designed for the non-farming public and covered the entirety of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in Richmond.
In addition to these events, several written submissions have been delivered to City Staff as Strategy input.
The following provides a summary of the public discussions that took place in the workshops and the written submissions.
- Urban pressures in the form of residential dwellings and industrial operations are encroaching on agricultural lands.
- Reduce the pressures of the urban/rural boundary by incorporating natural buffer zones between ALR areas and urban areas. Buffer zones can also help to reduce both noise and chemical pollution.
- There is a conflict between farm and non-farm uses of agricultural lands.
- Farm land should be utilized for farming use only.
- Land within the ALR should not be allowed to sit idle.
- Many municipal by-laws and planning procedures favour an urban vs. an agricultural perspective.
- Municipal by-laws should change to incorporate the views of the farming community.
Drainage / Irrigation
- Inadequate drainage reduces the quality of the soil, and makes it difficult to use heavy machinery.
- Drainage improvements are required.
- City needs to adopt a master drainage plan where pre-development drainage flows are equal to post-development drainage flows.
- Ditches become blocked by debris which results in flooding.
- A cleaning schedule for ditches must be incorporated every five years to prevent clogging.
- Development and fill deposition makes storm-water runoff onto adjacent properties.
- Incorporating drainage pipes to adjacent landowners and creating ditches.
- All farms need access to clean water. Farms must utilize what is available in the water table often this is stagnant and becomes too acidic for crops in the summer.
- Deep, wide ditches would allow for a good flow of water which will allow farmers to diversify crops.
Conflict with Non-Farmers
- There are growing health concerns among non-farmers about the effect of spraying.
- The use of spraying on farmland is essential to help keep the spread of fungus and disease to a minimum. Efforts must be made to educate and inform the public concerning spraying times, and natural buffer zones can create a barrier to spray drift.
- Idle lands can breed a greater amount of pests and weeds that can eventually infest adjacent farms. This can lead to an increase in spraying.
- Encourage idle lands to be farmed thereby reducing the amount of weeds, pests, and spraying.
- There needs to be better traffic and road improvement planning for areas within the agricultural lands. Several roads including especially Blundell, No. 6 Rd., Westminster Hwy., Steveston Hwy., River Rd., and Sidaway have been identified as having increasing numbers of non-farm industrial and commuter traffic.
- Introduce signs that will provide respect and courtesy for slow moving farm vehicles;
- non-agricultural traffic should be limited to major routes only; and
- strict enforcement by police of speeding violations near agricultural lands.
- Some road improvements are not designed to accommodate agricultural uses.
- Road widening for farm vehicles. Take into account agricultural users when planning roads.
Access to Farms
- There is no road access to many farms.
- The city needs to develop a road plan that will allow farmers to access their lands.
Trespassing / Vandalism
- The public does not respect the private boundaries of farmlands.
- Development of trails increases opportunities for trespassing and vandalism on farm lands.
- Educate the public regarding private property boundaries and farming activities, and in some cases strict penalties should be issued and carried out to those who vandalise private property.
- Farmers need access, but new roads into the farmland gives trespassers greater access.
- Possible Solutions
- Dead-end roads or tractor-friendly "car guards" may be a solution.
- Illegal dumping on farmland raises the issue of who should be liable for the cost of clean-up.
- Set up a liability fund to recover costs incurred upon farmers for waste removal or vandalism to property.
- Poor communication between farmers and government means issues aren't dealt with promptly.
- The formation of an Agricultural Advisory Committee to Council can permit farmers and government to work together and initiate programs.
- The move from piece rate to minimum wage has caused a shortage of workers (mostly a concern among blueberry growers). The new labour restrictions impact economic viability.
- Allow children to pick; give an opportunity to those on welfare to pick; get funding for student pickers.
Farm Economics / Marketing
Small Acreage Farming
- Farming on small parcels is not economically viable.
- City involvement in the nursery industry impacts local private nursery operations.
- Lower costs and increase prices, produce intensively on the land, and/or create a niche market for product.
- Promote City purchase of local nursery plants.
- It is difficult to sell produce due to dependency on wholesalers and competition from other areas.
- A subsidy or a similar regulation should be adopted to even this out.
- Promotional activities and a local farmers market would enhance the market for local crops.
New Generation of Farmers
- The local agricultural workforce is ageing, with no one to take their place.
- An education and incentive program should be focused on improving the image of agriculture and allow it to be culturally accepted as a field young people can be proud of.
- Feedback from the public workshops, and the responses to the Agricultural Survey (see the Agricultural Survey Report of March, 1999) outline many of the constraints to viability for Richmond's farms.
- The potential solutions identified in this report provide direction for mitigating these problems, and will assist the City and the Richmond Farmers Institute in charting a course for the future of agriculture in Richmond. Together, the Agricultural Survey Report and this document are being used to develop the Richmond Agricultural Viability Strategy.