GUEST COMMENT: Urban agriculture a complex matter
To the Editor,
Re: Lantzville calls in lawyers over urban farming dispute, June 21.
There has been quite a bit of information printed in the newspapers regarding urban food gardens and the current bylaw contravention.
I would like to share with the community why this issue has created so much controversy and what my position is.
First, residents have been led to believe that they are not allowed to grow their own vegetables and fruit for personal consumption. This has never been the case and I have always supported residents’ right to having gardens and this will continue.
I support both the urban garden bylaw receiving second reading, so there is increased clarity to the residents on what they can do on their property and further refinement of this bylaw in the future.
Like all home-based businesses, the issue is always about scale and intensity and the impact that it is having on neighbours and the community. I believe we should live in a community were we respect our neighbours and work with them so as not to impact their quality of life and enjoyment of their property.
Immediate concerns have been raised regarding possible water contamination in run-off and in the wells of adjacent property owners due to the volume of raw/fresh manure dumped on a regular basis (i.e. seven full farm truckloads in less than a week).
The traffic and noise from the steady stream of landscapers coming to dump their landscape material (grass clippings, wood chips) from their business can occur on a daily basis.
The smell from the manure as it is unloaded, spread and then left on the ground without proper composting and the number of flies covering houses as improperly handled manure is prime breeding grounds for such insects are other concerns.
If these activities were occurring on a smaller scale, they would not be considered an intrusion, but as a daily operation, it changes the nature of the neighbourhood from residential.
On the larger scale these activities do not reflect the activities that a neighbour inflicts on a neighbour.
I believe we have tried to resolve this issue in a fair manner by inviting the property owner to present his ideas to council (ignored), to apply for a temporary use permit (refused), to apply for rezoning (refused), even to apply to the Agricultural Land Reserve for farm status but to no avail.
My role as mayor is to treat everyone equally in the community – no one should have special privileges that adversely impact other residents. I do not believe that this is what ‘community’ stands for.
For a moment stand in the shoes of a neighbour. Would you accept this intrusion in your life?