Friday, February 25, 2011

Local Beekeepers are fighting to keep our precious island pollinators safe

Here is a letter I sent today to BC Agriculture Minister Ben Stewart regarding the inadequate protection of island honey-bees.

February 25, 2011

Dear Minister Stewart,

I am writing to draw your attention to a matter requiring your action. As you are likely aware, the owner of Babe’s Honey, Mark Pitcher, is now facing several fraud-related criminal charges. I assume he is innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law. Having said that, it is important to revisit how your Ministry has handled the Vancouver Island bee file.

My understanding is that the policy to lift the quarantine on the importation of bees and of bee equipment on the island was based in large part on input from Mr. Pitcher.
In contrast, hundreds of Island beekeepers – including substantial honey-related business owners – were denied input in the decision-making process. They were and are presenting a consensus on what steps are necessary to safeguard our island pollinators and improve honey bee health on the island.

Experts, concerned individuals and myself, have been speaking out strongly about this situation since the quarantine was lifted. We have warned your ministry repeatedly of the danger of this course of action. Our input was ignored.

At this point, it is important to ensure the safety of hundreds of millions of bees recently brought onto Vancouver Island by Mr. Pitcher. I have questions regarding the health and maintenance of these hives. As the Official Opposition Critic for Agriculture, I am asking for answers.

I want to know what course of action you are recommending and what steps you are taking to ensure the situation improves.

This issue affects all of us on the island because if these bees become diseased and spread their disease, our already-decimated precious island pollinators could be further harmed.

As you know, pollination is a very important part of our food security and pollination is fundamental to our island agriculture industries.

I look forward to your earliest reply

Sincerely, Lana Popham

Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South
Official Opposition Critic for Agriculture

And check out this Times Colonist article for more details:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Response to the Budget - Agriculture Focus

Today I rose in the Legislature to call the BC Liberal government to account for its failure to support agriculture.

Rapid Transit!

As an MLA, one topic people regularly bring up with me is traffic. We’ve been debating for years how best to address our transportation problems. I believe strongly that we need to invest in a public transportation system that is zero-emissions, efficient, cost-effective and pleasant to use.

Click to see close-up
Creating such a system for Victoria and the surrounding areas is very exciting - but it is also a complex and expensive undertaking that has long-term implications. It requires careful consideration and wide consultation.

I am happy to report that this work is well underway and BC Transit has developed a regional rapid-transit plan which has widespread support from the municipalities of Saanich, Victoria, View Royal, Colwood and Langford.

The image to the right shows where BC Transit’s rapid transit alignment would be developed in the Victoria/Saanich area. (You can click on the image to see a regional map).

We are still debating what kind of system this should be – the biggest question is whether it should be rail-based (such as trams) or road-based (such as high-speed buses). BC Transit sums up the argument like this: “A rail-based system would cost more, but would have more capacity, attract more ridership and the vehicles would last longer. A rubber-tire-based system would cost less and could be implemented faster, but would reach capacity sooner, not attract as many riders as rail, and the vehicles would require more frequent replacement.”

I agree with the Municipalities of Saanich, Victoria, View Royal: we are all supportive of a rapid transit system that is rail-based. As Councilor Dean Murdock argues, “a rail-based system offers environmental, social, and economic benefits for our region. It will cut greenhouse gas emissions, increase transit ridership, improve transit travel times, stimulate economic growth, and cut sprawl.”

There is no way to escape the fact that transportation is a significant contributor to global warming. We need to get serious about climate change. Rapid transit – and especially light rapid rail - is an important and necessary step to help us reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Costing and other details continue to be worked on. We should soon have enough information to make a decision about how to move forward. Municipalities, regional governments and community leaders have shown initiative and vision. It is time for the provincial government to prove it is serious about fighting climate change and willing to help address the south island’s transportation needs.

Click here to learn more abou the Victoria Region Rapid Transit Plan.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Clips from a recent interview

-Union of BC Municipalities
-Tanker traffic down our BC coast (1:20)
-Transportation: LRT and lack of investments on Vancouver Island (3:40)


- 'Saving Hudson's Bay Farm'
-Agricultural Land Commission (1:04)
-Barriers to farming
-Climate Change and agriculture (2:00)
-Cooking show ("fast food" recipe) (3:00)