Re: Being a 'Gateway' has its price, April 11
MLA Vicki Huntington has done a great service to our community by exposing the disastrous plans for destroying local farmland for port infrastructure development.
This is no ordinary development since the port is a federal government entity and can legally use land in the Agricultural Land Reserve for non-farm uses. The power and money behind these schemes have been working for decades to undermine Delta's agricultural land base, making it more and more difficult for farmers to operate a viable industry.
Nor is this only an issue of agricultural survival. As most South Delta citizens are aware, land in our community is a vital link for millions of birds migrating on the Pacific Flyway.
The Fraser River Estuary Important Bird Area, a biological designation encompassing the whole region, has the greatest number of species meeting global thresholds of any site in Canada.
Farm fields, ditches and hedgerows are critical habitat for birds. Massive flocks of ducks, geese and swans feed and shelter on the fields in winter and stormy weather. Raptors, such as eagles, hawks, falcons and harriers, are dependent on prey found in the farmland.
Delta has the highest diversity and number of wintering raptors in Canada. A break in the Pacific Flyway would affect birds from 20 countries, from Russia to Argentina.
Farmers have cooperated for years in maintaining the existence of these habitats, which replaced the historic wet prairies of pre-diking days. Open-field agriculture can co-exist with migratory bird flocks.
Development on the scale proposed will not support birds: the flyway will collapse. There is nowhere for these birds to go, as we are surrounded by urban development, snow-capped mountains and B.C.'s predominantly rocky coastline.
Everyone in Delta needs to tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper this plan is not going to work. We cannot afford to lose one more acre of farmland in Delta.