Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Solsticey thoughts

That double-sun image is what I get to see every Solstice when first light streams into our living room. The effect results from sunlight coming through a lovely stained-glass window. Still, the way the image straddles the centre of our front door, it's a pretty magical way to mark the start of the day that is Solstice.

This Solstice sees me worrying about land use -- yet again. And once again, it's Surrey that seems enmeshed in the plans. If previous recent decisions are any indication, we're probably looking at the loss of more greenspace. Still, I am hoping that reason will prevail.

The area in question is Barnston Island, a delightful little treasure that can only be accessed (for now, at least)by a very small (and free!) ferry. Because the island is nice and flat, it's a perfect place for biking. But more than just a place for recreation, it's farmland, hosting a number of pure food ventures, such as the organic farm run by Avalon Dairy (you know, the folks who still put the milk into glass bottles).

Land on the island has been protected, as it's in the put to better use if it was home to an industrial park (there's an oxymoron if ever there was one).

Of course, there are a number of us who feel that Barnston Island should stay unindustrialized and remain in the ALR.

In Canada, today is not only Solstice, it's also National Aboriginal Day. There's more than a bit of irony in this fact when considering the fate of Barnston Island. The Katzie First Nations Reserve is also on the island. This morning's Vancouver Sun, besides reporting on last night's public meeting about the island's fate, also announced the death of former Katzie chief, Peter James. Chief James was well known for his strong voice in calling for protection of the land. We can only hope that his voice will echo long enough to see to it that no rash decisions are made.

As today's Sun reported, and Surrey resident Al Cleaver put so well, "When we lose farmland, we lose it forever."

Especially with Vancouver hosting the World Urban Forum, we need to be thinking long-term. If the costs of transportation continue to rise (and that seems much more likely than not), how good will produce from California or Chile seem? Don't we want to start planning for growing our own food? Especially where we already have the farmland, why indeed would we even consider paving it?

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