Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Don't pave paradise farm in Maple Ridge!

November 14, 2006

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column - News, Views & Attitude

Leave the farm alone


Hey, farmer, farmer, put away that DDT, now! Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees, please! Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got till it's gone?
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

- Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi

The B.C. government and TransLink want to pave a little piece of organic paradise - a blueberry farm in Maple Ridge - and put a road right through it.

It makes no sense at all.

Farmers Ting Wu and his wife Risa Lin own Formosa Nursery, a certified organic 18.6-hectare farm which has been growing blueberries for 30 years.

Now the province and TransLink want to run an access road connector to the new $808-million Golden Ears Bridge right through Formosa's productive farmland.

That's stupid enough as it is.

But what's really crazy is that the Wu family has only asked that the province and TransLink move the connector just 30 metres south and use a gazetted road allowance owned by the government - literally saving the farm.

Despite an easy solution, provincial B.C. Liberal Agriculture Minister Pat Bell and TransLink still say no - they will expropriate the land and paving will start in days.

So on Thursday a rally on the farm brought together former Social Credit Premier Bill Vander Zalm, New Democrat MLAs Corky Evans and Michael Sather and a host of environmental groups to fight the destruction of prime farmland for no good reason.

"It cuts through our heart," Ting Wu told 24 hours Thursday. "Just move the road 100 feet. It's a reasonable thing, a compromise."

"I hope they can see this," Wu said. "It's really stressful, even more now. We can't continue if the road goes through."

Vander Zalm and Evans make a surprising pair to ride to the rescue, coming from both the political right and left.

But Vander Zalm told a crowd of 100 that he and Evans are of one mind on this issue - leave the farm alone.

Evans said it's ironic that Formosa isn't a case of a farmer applying to take land out of the Agricultural Land Reserve to develop it.

"This is not an issue where the farmer wants out. This is an issue where the farmer and the farmer's parents and the farmer's children want to farm," Evans said. "The government should support the farmer. If the minister of agriculture won't do it, he should resign."

The Wu family will make one last appeal on Friday to TransLink's board of directors - they've been given just five minutes to save the farm where they've been producing food for 30 years.

For more info:

Hear Bill Tieleman Mondays at 10 a.m. on CKNW AM 980's Bill Good Show. Website:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why in this world should small organic blueberry farmers have to struggle so hard to keep farming?

Struggling to survive amid agribusiness and pesticides is bad enough.

That the powers-that-don’t-care would put a road way through a blueberry farm, a roadway that could easily be moved just a few meters, is tragic and so short sighted.

What would we tell future generations? We just had to destroy this small farm, because we needed to build a road through it.

The food you eat, the people that care about the food you eat, the farmers that give their lives to grow good food, the land and soil that can nourish us…all these were less important than a road than could have been moved.

Sometimes I just weep.