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Agriculture Plan: Laying the groundwork for investment

A plan that will take Campbell River back to its roots was approved by the province.

The city’s Agriculture Plan received the stamp of approval from Don McRae, the Minister of Agriculture, at a signing ceremony in Victoria on Nov. 22.

“It’s quite an accomplishment for the minister to come back, after seeing the plan, and support it,” said outgoing Mayor Charlie Cornfield. “He was very pleased.”

The city’s Agriculture Steering Committee spent two years working on the plan. Morgan Ostler, a former city councillor and chair of the committee, is thrilled to see something that is close to her heart, come to fruition.

“I want to say how tremendously pleased I am,” Ostler said. “It’s been three years since I brought my proposal forward to city council.”

Ostler, who grew up on a farm outside of Victoria, went to city council because she was concerned with Campbell River’s lack of food security.

“We’re totally dependent, on food consumed here in Campbell River, to be shipped in on a daily basis. I think Campbell River produces less than one per cent of what we consume – that leaves us vulnerable,” Ostler said. Growing up, “I had really appreciated the fact our farm made our large family sustainable. It’s in my bones. It’s a natural for me to be excited as we move forward.”

The plan also opens a window for Campbell River. Ostler said roughly one-third of property within the city limits is part of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), land which is set aside by the provincial government for agriculture as the priority use.

“Our ultimate goal is to turn it into an economic opportunity for the establishment of greenhouses and agri-food businesses,” Ostler said.

A soil specialist studied the soil value of the land and determined that in areas west of Willis Road and west of Storey’s Creek golf club, the soil value is comparable to what’s found in the Fraser Valley, Ostler said.

“We see that as a great opportunity to attract business here, we’re hopeful that with the support of the provincial government and the economic arm, Rivercorp, that we can work towards that goal,” she said.

Pat Bell, minister of jobs, tourism and innovation, said Campbell River’s Agriculture Plan shows great initiative from the city.

“Campbell River’s Agriculture Plan is part of the North Island’s future economic resilience and good news for job creation, business, investment and the broader community as Vancouver Island continues to re-inforce its profile as a strong, regional agricultural hub in the province,” Bell said in a release.

The plan projects the community as having the capacity to produce 10 per cent of its own food supply by 2031. The plan also anticipates farming would occur in many different forms, such as value-added, artisan and niche products.

Ostler said the Agriculture Steering Committee’s next move will be to ask the new council to support an Agricultural Advisory Committee, which would be the thirty-sixth in B.C.

“I’m hopeful the new council will be as excited as I am about the new opportunities that lay before us.”

The city’s Agriculture Plan can be viewed online at www. sustainable campbellriver.ca

 

What the Agriculture Plan says:

 

  • Approximately 5,000 hectares (30,000 acres) of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is within the city boundaries

 

  • A significant amount of the ALR land has an agricultural capability rating of Class 1, 2 & 3 (considered prime land)

 

  • Large areas of the community have climate, soil, elevation and face a direction suitable for growing a wide range of conventional crops such as cranberries, blueberries and grapes as well as less conventional high-value crops such as shitake mushrooms and medicinal herbs

 

  • Attractive land costs, which makes it a great start-up location for new agricultural producers

 

  • For commodity transport, Campbell River is well-positioned with a deep sea port, airport, and close proximity to the mainland ferry and the Island Highway (Highway 19)
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