Inexcusable: the squandering of prime agricultural land
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"Canada's Disappearing Farmland." An article by Tanya Brouwers, a Consultant for the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada states that "94% of Canada’s lands are unsuitable for farming. Of that small percentage of land that will support agricultural endeavours only 0.5% is designated as class 1, where there are no significant limitations to farming activity. Unfortunately, due to urbanization, poor farming practices and other non-agricultural activities, this small percentage of viable farmland is shrinking at an alarming rate. Statistics Canada, for example, reported that between 1971 and 2001, over 14,000 square kilometres of our best agricultural land had been permanently lost to urban uses."
Prime agricultural land in Strathcona County, Alberta Canada is to be permanently lost to urban development. Recently the County councillors made the choice to develop an area called Bremner. Their choice to develop this area rather than an area with poorer quality land not only went against expert recommendations but it also went against their own Strathcona Agricultural Master Plan which states:
"one of the major components of the AMP is that Prime Agricultural Land will only be used for urban growth as a last resort when alternative lands are unavailable."
The Sherwood Park news and the Edmonton Journal have published an article which addresses the subject, the links to the article noted below.
A follow up article "The dirt on soil" by Donald Spady further explains the devastating impact of this choice. I have copied the article below and the link to the article is http://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/letters/wednesdays-letters-court-cases-stayed-have-a-free-light-bulb
"The dirt on soil" Donald Spady, Edmonton
Re. “Can we really afford to lose prime soil to development?” David Staples, March 1
It takes between 200 and 400 years to make one centimetre of topsoil, thus the 45 centimetres of topsoil to be removed in the creation of the proposed Bremner community near Sherwood Park took between 9,000 and 18,000 years to form.
Some might call this soil dirt, but this is a living ecosystem, full of life, nutrients, and potential to provide good local food for humans indefinitely.
Yet some developer wants to strip it all away, in a blink, just to make a buck. No thought is given that the world only has about 60 years of topsoil left, and this soil is essential to food production, and thus humanity.
Soil like this must be carefully hoarded. We are told that over the next 50 years, the world must double its food production. Climate change is going to make meeting that goal very difficult, but land like this will help Canada meet that critical challenge.
It is probably true this land may be ideal for development; however, it is needed for a more important purpose. Other less agriculturally essential land is nearby and available for development. Maybe those who make the decisions as to land use should revisit their values and make a choice reflecting today’s real challenges and priorities."
Right the wrong. Society values nutritious food and clean water. This land is a gift of nature. Please join in petitioning the Alberta government to overturn the County's decision and fulfill a duty to protect rather than squander this inherited land that needs to continue to be a privileged means for a bountiful and sustainable food source.
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