Citizens taking action ~ Vancouver, Lower Mainland, and beyond.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Agricultural Urbanism

Last summer Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan requested a report telling the Metro Vancouver Board how much money the taxpayer had thrown away on its now-abandoned plan to build a new landfill in the BC Interior. That report started making its rounds of Metro Board Committees this week (see Item 6.1 on the Finance Committee Agenda).

The news is pretty bad. We've sunk $12.6 million into an agricultural operation that is now valued at $10.8 million. Richmond Councillor Harold Steves (himself a cattle rancher) commented to the Vancouver Sun, "The [cattle] producers in B.C. are just going broke," but recommended that Metro hang on to the land and continue working the ranch: "It's one of the most productive ranches in the Cariboo when times are good."

Who ever thought our regional government would get in the business of cattle ranching?

It's not as outlandish an idea as it might seem. A report went to the Metro Agriculture Committee last week (see Item 6.7 on the meeting Agenda) arguing convincingly that municipal and regional governments should incorporate agriculture and the food system into their planning.
But I suspect the last thing the new group of Agricultural Urbanists had in mind was building a garbage landfill on a cattle ranch. Nor, I imagine, did they have in mind garbage incinerators adjacent to Agricultural Land Reserve property here in our own region, like the Burnaby incinerator pictured above.

Much more in the Agricultural Urbanist direction was a very cursory report to the Metro Waste Management Committee (see Item 5.2 on the meeting agenda) that Metro is finally in negotiations with two companies to open food waste composting plants in the region. Staff wouldn't divulge much to the curious committee members but Black Press reporter Jeff Nagel obtained details that were reported in the Surrey Leader.

These two composting facilities, if they are run right, could be a tangible way we can all participate in Agricultural Urbanism. And Councillor Harold Steves, who sits on both the Agriculture and Waste Management committees could help us get there.
When our food waste goes to local farms and everything else goes back to the producers for repair, reuse, or recycling, we can gradually decommission our current landfill and incinerator.

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