Exactly what is Gabriola getting out of the money it is paying into the Regional District of Nanaimo’s (RDN) Regional Growth Strategy Agricultural Advisory Commission Chair (AAC) Veronica Hartman asked at an Oct. 16 meeting at the WI Hall.
While conducting a preliminary review of the RDN’s “Agricultural Area Plan” that had been forwarded to the AAC by the Local Trust committee for consideration and comment, Hartman pointed out that none of the suggestions in the plan include Gabriola as a beneficiary. She asked what Gabriolans are getting out of the approximately $10,000 they contribute towards the plan.
Trustee Gisele Rudischer agreed that the strategy focusses on land-use – a function that is carried out by the Islands Trust on Gabriola – and doesn’t really pertain to Gabriola in that regard. She said when asked the same question at a June Trust/RDN protocol meeting, RDN staff said Gabriolans get the benefit of the education and planning studies that the regional district undertakes.
As previously reported, RDN staff also said Gabriola would be considered in any economic studies, and suggested that the agricultural plan would be relevant for the LTC and had “good information on land use and alternate approaches to developing rural areas”.
Rudischer suggested that the AAC ask Regional Director Howard Houle to ensure they are informed whenever the RDN holds any educational events, and are kept apprised of new ideas. She added that she will also be attending the Sustainability Select Committee, and some good ideas and information might flow from those meetings.
Gabriolans could also benefit from an objective outlined in the strategic plan to “improve training skills and labour opportunities in the RDN”, said Commissioner Sal Dominelli. Rudischer thought that if the RDN is offering farming workshops or training Gabriolans could attend.
The AAC agreed to invite Houle to their next meeting.
ALC strategic vision
Commissioners also took a brief look at a paper outlining a proposed new strategic vision for the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) – the body that administers the Agricultural Land Reserve – then agreed to postpone further discussion of the RDN farm plan, and the ALC document to their next meeting.
Commissioner John Switzer said that until recently, the ALC’s job has been to take land out of the Agricultural Land Reserve, rather than protect farmland. He said even 15 years ago the ALC had already allowed 100 square miles to be taken out of the ALR in the Fraser Valley. “They put it back in the Peace though”, he added, to a round of laughter.
Chickens and pigs
Commissioners also discussed barring large chicken and pig production enterprises on small lots, and establishing setbacks on lots adjoining agricultural lands.
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