Creston Valley farmers need to know their voices count with politicians

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To the Editor:

Last weekend, Regional District of Central Kootenay Area B director John Kettle got a laugh out fellow BC Liberal Party members at their convention in Kelowna. “They grow a lot of things in Nelson — food isn’t one of them,” he said.

The comment was part of words spoken by director Kettle on the controversial Bill 24, which is proposing changes to our province’s Agricultural Land Reserve — making it easier for most of B.C.’s farmland to be used for non-agricultural purposes. Director Kettle thanked the government “for not getting weak knees” on seeing the proposed bill become law.

What director Kettle conveniently ignored in his remarks is how much food is grown by his own constituents, in his own area and elsewhere in our fertile valley. I am proud to be growing healthy, nutritious food in Area B. I am among the many local farmers, gardeners and other Creston Valley food producers whose voices do not seem to count to director Kettle or his provincial Liberal colleagues.

When I first spoke out against Bill 24 and in favour of public consultation on the future of B.C. food lands, my concern was to defend B.C.’s agricultural legacy. I urged others who believe in protecting our future food security to speak out, too.

Now, after months of leaked documents showing backroom dealings and limited concern for due process, after faulty testimony by Liberal MLAs in the legislature and after stunning lack of government response to public outcry on this matter, my concern is just a much for our province’s democracy. I urge my neighbours to stand up for due process and transparency on this and other issues.

And, as a younger resident of this province, I urge politicians, both local and provincial, to give me reason to believe that my voice counts. I am not laughing, director Kettle.

Laura Hannant