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The importance of food security is a lesson we learned during COVID: Councillor Mike Bose, Surrey

Surrey First Councillors Mike Bose and Linda Annis say a large tract of federally-owned land in Campbell Heights should stay as farmland, even if the federal government proceeds with plans to dispose of it. The two Surrey councillors were reacting to media reports that three local First Nations want the land, although they have not specified how they might use it. The land is currently leased by a local farming family.

“One of the biggest lessons we learned during the pandemic was the need for local food security and the importance of protecting our regional food supply chain,” said Bose, a fourth generation Surrey farmer. “The land in question is unique in Canada, and produces our region’s first crops of the season. As climate change pushes agricultural exporters like California to secure their own food supply for people in their state, land like this in Surrey becomes even more important for Lower Mainland food security. This land should remain agricultural, and if we were smart, it should also include a provincial or national agricultural centre of excellence that could help grow our agricultural sector even more.”

More than 80,000 people, including local Surrey farmers, have signed a petition to keep the surplus federal land for agriculture.

“Surrey is fortunate as a big city to still have farmland, and we should be holding onto that capacity to grow our food for our region and province,” added Annis. “Having our own farmland and a healthy and productive agricultural industry is something few other cities have, and we shouldn’t toss that aside. The federal government needs to make the agricultural value of this land a priority, and so should Surrey city council. Any move to industrialize this particular piece of property is short sighted and jeopardizes our food security at a time when we should be boosting agriculture, not paving it over.”

Bose and Annis say “economic reconciliation” with local First Nations makes good sense, but should not arbitrarily dismiss the agricultural value of the Campbell Heights land.

“We recognize the federal government needs to honour its commitment to truth and reconciliation, but it also needs to do right by the people of Surrey,” said Annis. “The City of Surrey and our 600,000 residents should not be sidelined when it comes to a unique piece of property like this. If Ottawa is talking to First Nations, it should also be talking to the people of Surrey."

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