Nova Scotia

Valley election pits farming against development

A by-election campaign in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley is pitting proponents of developing farmland against defenders of keeping it agricultural.

A by-election campaign in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley is pitting  defenders of agriculture against proponents of developing farmland.

The two candidates vying for the vacancy on the Kings County council — Patricia Bishop and Peter Elderkin — have very different views on how the area's lush land could be best used.

Bishop wants to keep farmland for agriculture while Elderkin argues development has to be part of the Valley's future.

Patricia Bishop is behind the No Farms No Food campaign. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)
Bishop, 35, operates Tap Root Farms, where she grows fruits and vegetables. 

"We can have a fresh start at council and ... move forward into the future — a sustainable future for our community," she told CBC News.

"That's really important to me when you talk about waste management, water, energy and how we as a municipality are going to prepare ourselves for the future."

Time for change

Her opponent is Elderkin, 56. He's the ninth generation of his family to operate Elderkin's Farm Market in Greenwich. 

Peter Elderkin has argued for development in the past. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)
"It's time for a little change in there and it's time for the perspective that if they tell council what farmers want, then it's time to have a farmer on there," he said.

Elderkin and three other farmers caused a stir two years ago by applying to have some of their farmland re-zoned for residential and commercial use. It was approved by council but ultimately denied by the Nova Scotia government.

Bishop actively supported an organization on the other side of the issue called No Farms No Food. It wanted to force owners to keep the land agricultural.

"I think they were completely wrong in saying to save agriculture we save the land," Elderkin said. "We need to have a business environment to protect business and to encourage businesses, and farms are businesses, plain and simple."

Bishop disagrees.

"Agriculture is part of the backbone of our economy here in Kings County and yes it's important to have people who represent agriculture represented in our council," she said.

The by-election will be held July 23.