Farmers' protest rolls into Richmond city hall
Farmer Ray Galawan says the dumping of asphalt and concrete is threatening farmland
A group of farmers in Richmond, B.C., took their anger and tractors to city hall protesting what they believe should be illegal dumping on a farm, but the city's mayor says, while he is concerned, his hands are tied.
Farmer Ray Galawan says in particular he is concerned road builders are using oversized pieces of concrete and piles of asphalt that will contaminate prime farmland.
"My great grandfather, my grandfather and my dad are turning over in their grave, I know it," said Galawan.
Galawan wants the city to step in and stop what he says will destroy more of an already low supply of valuable farmland. Supporter Jane Milina-Dunn says she fears for the future of farming in the community.
"This is all we've got left in Richmond, and the misuse of it by building these monster homes, or filling it with toxic garbage."
On Wednesday they blockaded the farm. On Thursday they drove their tractors to city hall to protest.
Mayor says his hands are tied
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie listened to their concerns today, and admitted he shares some of them, but says the issue is within the jurisdiction of the Agricultural Land Commission, not city hall.
"Our hands really are tied. I hear your frustration. You will help us. You will advocate for us. Talk to the commission. We already have," said Brodie.
The mayor says he's asked the Agricultural Land Commission to stop the work on the farm until a thorough investigation is conducted, and asked his staff to look into the broader issue.
Meanwhile property owner Bill Jones says the criticism may be well meaning, but it's misguided.
Jones says the property is being converted into a tree farm and he has the necessary permits from the Agricultural Land Commission to use the material as fill under the road he is building.
"We have done absolutely nothing wrong and frankly, this blockade, by well intentioned people I guess, is totally absurd."
Jones says he will be using the road to bring in topsoil and insists the plan will actually improve the farm's value.