Food prices are set to rise dramatically. This is especially important to note here on Vancouver Island considering that most of the food available in grocery stores is imported.
Are we putting ourselves at risk?
A recent article in the Parksville-Oceanside newspaper highlighted the plight of Vancouver Island farmers. Grocery store chains, even the ones that claim to have BC roots here have shut the door on them.
Food production has become controlled by just a few companies with everything being grown and produced at large scale farms. But should this change? How to maintain global food security in light of population growth, high energy prices and climate change?
Many experts believe that diverse, small scale and local food systems are a prerequisite for long term sustainability.
California, supplier of nearly all almonds, walnuts, pistachios, grapes, lettuce, oranges, broccoli, strawberries and tomatoes, is on track to experience the driest year in the past half millennium. For many regions of California, 2013 ended as the driest year in recorded history. That trend has continued into 2014.
Brazil, the number one exporter of coffee and sugar, has experienced severe drought conditions and according to a Brazilian weather service, January and February 2014 have been the driest months in Brazil in 30 years.
The impact of too much rain in Indonesia is damaging that country’s large cocoa harvest, and in the Prairies, a brutally cold winter may have damaged the wheat crop.
In California, the biggest users and wasters of water aren’t the farms, they’re lawns and golf courses. According to 2010 figures, Palm Springs uses over 700 gallons of water per person each day. This is far above the amount used by Los Angeles at 200 gallons.
Fracking, and other types of energy extraction, also use enormous amounts of water.
Was the issue of selling BC water discussed during Premier Christy Clark’s recent visit to California?
On Saturday, March 1, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a $687 million drought-relief package to help the state deal with large-scale crop losses, loss of agricultural jobs and food.
Grocery stores throwing out food:
Contrary to popular opinion, grocery stores do not buy the food they sell. They simply stock it. Therefore, there is no incentive on their part to discount food if it begins to overripe or gets close to its ‘sell by’ date. If there is one rotten orange, then the whole bag is thrown out. Gallons of milk are poured down the drain every day.
Think about how much water it takes to grow an orange. One head of broccoli requires 5.4 gallons of water. Milk is mostly water, and dairy cows need a lot of it. An organic dairy farmer from California had this to say:
“You know how big a 50-gallon barrel is?” Hughes said. “A cow would drink almost that much water on a hot summer day. When they put their head into the water trough, they start sucking like a vacuum cleaner. On a real hot day, you can have a 400-gallon water trough and you can put five or six cows around that thing and they can suck it right to the bottom in no time.”
A report on misleading food expiry dates showed that forty percent of the food produced in the United States never gets eaten. Perfectly good, edible food — worth $165 billion annually — gets tossed in the trash instead feeding someone who’s hungry.
Statistics for Canada are unavailable.
Four Dollar Toast:
In San Francisco, a slice of toast is selling for $4 USD. There is even talk of it selling for $4.90.
While this seems an extravagant price to pay for a slice of bread, it may soon cost that much for everyone else.
One year after the Federal government dismantled the Canadian Wheat Board which coordinated grain shipments to the coast, Saskatchewan is sounding the alarm that the “duopoly” of CP and CN rail and their preference for carrying oil, has created a grain crisis.
On February 28th, Premier Wall admitted to reporters there are 50 ships sitting empty off Vancouver waiting for grain bursting out of silos across the prairies, while mills are running low on grains and cereals.
This scenario, coupled with the unseasonably cold weather that has gripped the Prairies, spells trouble for Canadian wheat growers, but there is more trouble on the horizon.
Also on Friday, February 28th, China’s state-owned grain giant COFCO bought a majority stake in Netherlands-based commodity trader Nidera for $1.2 billion. The deal would give China greater control over pricing on the world’s grain markets as well as better access to major grain-growing regions, such as Latin America and Russia.
At the last council meeting on Monday, February 24, 2014 Nanaimo Council voted 5-3 in favour of providing water to Lantzville. Mayor Ruttan stepped out for the vote as he lives in Lantzville.
What is the rush to provide water for Lantzville? There is a massive housing development planned, called the Lantzville Foothills, located above the Island Highway and the Woodgrove Centre covering approximately 1800 acres, space for about 800 homes. It is scheduled to go on the market in 2015.
The biggest challenge for this development was where to get water. Now the City of Nanaimo has solved the problem by voting to supply water to Lanztville Foothills, outlined in red.
The Nanaimo – Lantzville water vote was held on the evening of a brutal winter storm with mountains of snow everywhere. That didn’t deter three speakers who all spoke about their concerns regarding the water deal. Some of their questions were:
Will these new homes in Lantzville have water meters?
How much will this cost Nanaimo taxpayers?
Is this just for residential homes or is it for commercial areas in Lanztville as well?
Jump Lake ran dry in 1987; it will again, what are people going to do?
Will Nanaimo have to build a dam on Nanaimo River?
Is this just a “business deal”?
2012: Looking for water solutions in Lantzville
Here is a snippet from a Lantzville Council meeting back in February 27, 2012 where
David Behan President of Lone Tree Properties Ltd. spoke to Lanztville Council about their attempts at finding a water solution for the Lanztville Foothills:
“…we began a well exploration program on property on Biggs Road and have proven a potable source of water for 365 gpm which is enough for over 300 residential units and meets Canadian Safe Drinking Water Standards for a potable source…”
2014: Water problem solved – get water from Nanaimo
In December 2013, Lone Tree Developments became the sole owner of the Foothills property after spending more than a year in the courts trying to acquire the front-end parcel from the foreclosed Lantzville Foothills Estates Inc.
Lone Tree Developments aims to have the Foothills Development on the real estate market in 2015. In the meantime, Nanaimo is facing its own challenges with water supply expected to max out by 2020 or sooner.
How will the City of Nanaimo solve its future water problems and get out of debt? Will Lantzville be forced to amalgamate with Nanaimo over water and debt?
On Saturday April 5th, Vancouver Island Symphony will play musical pieces chosen by the audience in an evening titled, ‘Nanaimo Home’. Wouldn’t it be great to hear the Vancouver Island Waltz?
William K. Horne composed the “Vancouver Island Waltz” in 1860; probably the first music of its type composed locally. It is preserved at the Provincial Archives of British Columbia, but it has never been played by an orchestra in recent times.
Horne was Assistant Paymaster of HMS Ganges, the flagship of Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes. Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island is named after the ship. Fulford Harbour is named after Captain John Fulford, the master of the HMS Ganges. Originally, Saltspring was to be named Admiral Island in honour of Admiral Baynes, instead, he is remembered in Baynes Peak at the top of Mt. Maxwell.
The British Royal Navy was based in Esquimalt, which was known as the Pacific Station; its headquarters on the west coast. Previously, the Royal Navy had been based at Valparaiso, Chile, but after the Crimean war, Britain became concerned with Russia’s ports in the north Pacific and Esquimalt had a deep harbour well-suited to sailing ships.
Between 1857 and 1863, the Royal Navy surveyed and charted not only the border region between the Gulf Islands and the San Juans, but the entire coastline of Vancouver Island, the Strait of Georgia, and parts of Haida Gwaii and the mainland coast, including Burrard Inlet, Howe Sound, Jervis Inlet, Bute Inlet, and the Fraser River as far as Fort Langley.
As a result, there are many place names of crew members and their ships including Browning, Bedwell, Blunden and Gowlland Harbours; Campbell River, Mayne Island, Brockton Point, Pender Island, Plumper Sound, and Hecate Strait.
The presence of the Royal Navy was an economic and social boost to the town of Victoria. Many of the members played musical instruments and took part in theatre productions, and they were always present at government dances.
At the last council meeting, residents living in south Nanaimo made presentations regarding their concerns about the state of buildings in their neighbourhood. Some buildings have been abandoned, burnt and boarded up for years.
Is residential demolition the only alternative?
At the meeting the City of Nanaimo responded that they rely on residents to inform them of a problem. One home owner felt that the City comes down hard on some but not others. What is the solution? Why doesn’t the City get creative and find a way to clean up these homes and house homeless people? Below are some of the unoccupied homes featured in the presentation to Council.
Meanwhile, the City of Nanaimo spent half a million dollars just to prepare the ground for building the North Nanaimo Uplands Walk project on Uplands Drive which is to shelter approximately 30 hard-to-house drug addicts; the other new housing project at Dufferin Crescent will begin later.
Building Demolition Waste
Councillor Kipp raised an important question at the Council meeting, where does all this demolition material go? This is a huge problem. If we take a look at Vancouver we see that residential demolition waste fills 74% of Vancouver’s DLC landfill, according to the 2011 Demolition, Land-clearing and Construction Waste Composition Monitoring Summary Report.
On average, 750 non-derelict homes are demolished each year in Vancouver. Each demolition produces approximately 50 tonnes of waste, excluding concrete.
What about Nanaimo’s residential demolition? We need to start thinking outside the box. Many people are in need of housing, so why waste sound structures and materials? Watch this short video on what is happening in Vancouver regarding housing demolition and the waste.
It is important to deal with the issue of residential demolition because Nanaimo residents are faced with the real possibility of burning Metro Vancouver’s garbage at Duke Point .
There is a petition in Vancouver to try and save some of these character homes.