AREA D UPDATE: Perepolkin talks about UBCM
The theme of last week’s Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) conference was Rethink, Replace and Rejuvenate. Being faced with the challenges of an aging population it is time for governments, workplaces and infrastructure to take a renewed look at dealing with this and make policies and procedures to adapt.
As a director for Area D of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary I attended to represent my area at the Vancouver meetings held Sept. 26 to 30.
Many clinics, workshops and sessions were available throughout the week and covered many topics. I was very pleased to see agriculturally related topics being available everyday starting with an agriculture tour of the Fraser Valley. Most of the places toured were the “big players” who provide food both locally and beyond the Valley.
Champ’s mushroom farm markets over 36,000,000 pounds of mushrooms annually so you can imagine the size of the operation. The entire process from making their own growing medium, growing, harvesting, to packaging and value added are all done in one location.
JD Turkey Farm was the next stop where specialty turkeys are raised and processed and again value added products are available from the retail part of the operation.
The last operation on the tour was a berry farm. Diversity was the forefront of this location. About 165 acres are planted in berries; strawberries, raspberries and blueberries were the main crops. A U-pick is available or the market carries everything from the fresh picked berries to baked goods, fudge made while you watch to ice creams and smoothies. A variety of management techniques at this farm promote both productivity and sustainability.
The reward for getting up at 4 a.m. one morning to attend a flower auction was more the worthwhile. United Flower Growers supplies all of the Pacific Northwest with both cut and potted flowers and these are all sold through a Dutch style auction.
Quick fingers and a clear head are necessary to bid as the bid changes every four seconds. The majority of flowers are grown local and they are always looking for new suppliers to grow for them.
A clinic on building partnerships to encourage farming was facilitated by the Honorable Don McRae the new Minister of Agriculture along with Richard Bullock chair of the Agriculture Land Commission.
They have identified the need to promote pro-active land use planning as a priority getting away from application-based planning which can be reactive and moving toward collaboration with local governments for the farming industry to better assess regional issues.
Rethinking the future of agriculture focused on again the aging population and how it will impact local food security. Agriculture area [lans are a must to help rejuvenate this vital part of B.C. communities to ensure agriculture will still be a vibrant part of the community in the years to come.
Succession planning and attracting new young farmers are topics that should be covered by a plan.
Professor David Foot was the keynote speaker giving a talk on the demographic trends giving examples of statistics relevant to the power of nations. Nations having steady growth also have a stable workforce, whereas those who are going through decline in birthrates are falling behind.
To sum up I was very encouraged to see that agriculture is once again coming to the forefront and that the prediction is Canada can be sixth in world production of food by 2030.
I will be seeking re-election as director for Area D and plan to focus on agriculture, getting the area agriculture plan completed and passed before the board of directors, work on the newly established Parks function along with other projects like the Hardy Mountain Doukhobor Museum, Saddle Lake Regional Park and be available to listen and address the electorates concerns.
Irene L. Perepolkin