Taking the Municipal Farmland Challenge

Taking the Municipal Farmland Challenge 

I'm proud to take the Municipal Farmland Challenge, which is consistent with my track record as a City Councillor and CRD Director:

"As an elected official, I pledge to support protection of the Capital Region’s supply of arable land in decisions on land use and Agricultural Land Reserve exclusions, municipally and regionally."

It was a great day to show support for farmland protection and local food systems at Madrona Farm in Saanich, joined by Esquimalt council candidate Olga Liberchuk, Madrona farmer Nathalie Chambers, and Victoria council candidates Jeremy Loveday and Erik Kaye.

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City Council calls for pathway upgrades at Smith Hill Reservoir

Smith Hill Reservoir

The pathways surrounding the Smith Hill Reservoir next to Summit Park in the Hillside-Quadra neighbourhood have moved a step closer to receiving long-overdue upgrades.

Victoria City Council has voted unanimously in favour of a proposal I put forward with Mayor Dean Fortin calling on the City to work with the Capital Regional District (CRD) to improve the pathways for safety and the enjoyment of the public.

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Comment: Acquire Grace Islet to protect burial ground

By Ben Isitt, Times Colonist opinion-editorial, August 13, 2014

Today, Capital Regional District directors will consider a proposal to acquire Grace Islet in Ganges Harbour off Saltspring Island for the public purpose of protecting the First Nations burial ground.

While the primary obligation to protect First Nations cultural heritage sites resides with the provincial government, it has become sadly apparent that the provincial government and Forests Minister Steve Thomson have no intention of exercising this responsibility, notwithstanding requests from WSÁNE´C (Saanich Nation) and the six nations in the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, the Islands Trust and the CRD board to suspend the site-alteration permit and halt construction of a private residence on the burial island.

In the absence of provincial leadership, I believe it is ethically responsible and legally appropriate for the CRD board to exercise its authority under the B.C. Expropriation Act and acquire title to Grace Islet.

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Petition: Expropriate Grace Islet to protect the First Nations burial ground

Grace Islet July 12 2014

The government of British Columbia has refused to show leadership to protect the First Nations burial ground at Grace Islet in Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island electoral area, where construction of a private residence is underway;

Archaeological impact assessments confirm the presence of rock cairns and human remains at the site, consistent with the oral testimony of elders of the W̱SÁNEĆ and Hul'qumi'num Nations;

Local governments have the authority under the Expropriation Act to acquire property for public purposes and fairly compensate the owner;

THEREFORE WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, call on the Capital Regional District Board to show leadership and a genuine commitment to establishing a new relationship with First Nations by acquiring the property known as Grace Islet in Ganges Harbour, for the public purpose of protecting the First Nations burial ground, with fair-market compensation provided to the owner under the provisions of the Expropriation Act.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

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CBC Radio interview: Expropriating Grace Islet



Listen to this CBC Radio interview where Ben discusses the strategy of expropriating Grace Islet in Ganges Habour, Salt Spring Island, for the public purpose of protecting the First Nations burial ground.

Sign the Petition Here

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Joining the Pride Parade

Pride Parade 2014

Today I participated in the Victoria Pride Parade and festival, joining City Council colleagues and thousands of residents in a celebration of equality, diversity and respect in our community. It is inspiring to see Victoria united around these values!

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CRD directors, First Nations leaders demand action on Grace Islet burial site

Flotilla around Grace Islet burial site

July 8, 2014

VICTORIA,BC — Capital Regional District Directors and First Nations leaders are proposing action at this Wednesday's CRD Board meeting to protect the First Nations burial site on Grace Islet in Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island.

The site is currently the subject of a controversial development project to build a private residence on the First Nations burial ground. The Province's Archaeology Branch approved an Alteration Permit earlier this year, despite concern expressed by First Nations in the Capital Region and Cowichan Valley Regional District.

"We are calling on the CRD Board to stand with First Nations and request action from the Province to protect this First Nations burial site," says Ben Isitt, Victoria City Councillor and CRD Director, who has submitted a motion requesting that the Archaeology Branch suspend the Alteration Permit in order to permit negotiations to proceed between First Nations, the Province and the landowner to provide for the permanent protection of the site.

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Community Questionnaire 2014

Thank you for completing this questionnaire. Your responses will help inform policy and action leading into the municipal election and beyond. Responses will be held in confidence to respect your privacy.


Open the questionnaire here.

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Restoring rail with the Island Corridor Foundation

Joining the board of the Island Corridor Foundation. Here is the group of radicals who are proposing to restore rail connectivity for the movement of people and goods on Vancouver Island, alongside trail and other improvements in the five regional districts and fourteen indigenous communities connected by the Esquimalt & Nanaimo railroad.

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Compost our kitchen scraps at Hartland Road

By Ben Isitt and Zeb King, Times Colonist opinion-editorial, April 2, 2014

Next week, Capital Regional District directors will decide on the next steps for the region’s kitchen-scraps program. We believe residents and taxpayers would be best served by making CRD land at Hartland Road available for a regional composting facility.

There are a number of benefits to this strategy, which the City of Victoria and District of Central Saanich have asked the CRD to explore.

First, it keeps the resource within the capital region, reducing the cost and environmental impacts of transporting the resource up-Island or to the mainland.

Composting close to home provides easy access for the end-product — by farmers, municipal parks departments, landscapers and individual residents — closing the loop for everyone’s benefit.

Composting at Hartland also minimizes the impact of odour and trucks on residents, since the CRD land is already zoned for solid waste, with adequate buffers from residential properties and established transportation routes (kitchen scraps have gone to Hartland for 40 years, mixed with garbage).

Community opposition to Foundation Organics in Central Saanich and the Fisher Road facility in Cobble Hill demonstrates the challenge of large-scale composting on private land, leading other landowners to shelve plans for new facilities.

Finally, composting at Hartland would save taxpayers money, since we already own the land. The cost is limited to the initial capital investment and operations. No money is required to acquire land or transport the resource elsewhere, providing a cost-effective option for municipal and private haulers.

We therefore encourage the CRD board to show real leadership by developing the in-region option now: authorizing the use of CRD land at Hartland and partnering with the private sector to build a compost facility without delay.

In the future, this facility can be updated to process kitchen scraps from Saanich and recover additional resources.

We encourage all residents of the capital region to contact their mayors, councillors and regional directors sharing their views on this strategy prior to the April 9 board meeting.

Ben Isitt is a Victoria councillor and CRD director. Zeb King is a Central Saanich councillor. They both serve on the region’s solid-waste advisory committee with representatives of residents and private industry.

CBC Radio Interview

Listen to a CBC Radio interview with host Gregor Craigie and North Saanich councillor Elsie McMurphy here.

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