Behind the Scenes
This part of the site will quickly be filled with correspondence between Compassion Farm, Council and various supporters.
Below, from oldest to newest, is the email conversation between former Mayor Haime, Dirk and Nicole of Compassion Farm, which was cc-ed to the Lantzville City Council. These emails are submitted without comment for the public record as a part of research and news in accordance to the Fair Dealing sections of Canada's Copyright Law.
November 14, 2010
Dear Dirk and Nicole,
I am in receipt of a copy of your email of earlier today to "friends and neighbours of Lantzville". While I have received only 1 email related to it I believe it raises some interesting points. In that email you reference a list of RDN directors along with District of Lantzville Council. I bring to your attention that the Bylaw that Mr. Brack is attempting to enforce is strictly a District of Lantzville bylaw and in no way is affected nor directed by RDN policy. Mr. Brack, while he is employed by the RDN, is effectively working on behalf of the District of Lantzville under a contract of services between Lantzville and the RDN. Therefore, a deluge of emails directed incorrectly to the RDN directors will carry no weight in achieving changes to bylaws in Lantzville.
Secondly, I commend you on your approach within your email whereby you advise people to approach the issue in more general terms of local food production and sustainability and not focusing on your case specifically because this issue is of larger concern than just the use of one property on Fernmar.
Thirdly, I am somewhat offended that it is suggested in the letter that somehow decision making is different if children write the letters. Personally, I make decisions looking not only at the current situation but also potential issues/concerns for the future as well. Often children are used as emotional pawns rather than informed individuals which is not the case here I hope.
Lastly, I invite you to call Twyla Graff at the District office (250-390-4006) and inform her that you would like to attend our next Council meeting as a delegation whereby you can present your thoughts on urban farming and SPIN farming and current barriers to making it successful. Personally I would find it interesting as I am sure other members of council would as well.
Some questions that I am sure would come up would include:
1) Why is current agricultural land in Lantzville inadequate for farming?
2) What do neighbours of intensive agricultural activities think of it?
3) To do urban farming/SPIN farming are structures such as greenhouses
and night lighting required/desired?
Thank you for your time.
Reply sent November 14, 2010
First of all, we hope you are aware that the email you are referring to was not directed to you. This email was only sent to friends and supporters of ours who live in Lantzville, and therefore are also "neighbours".
We beg to differ that the "deluge of emails [are] directed incorrectly". The letter we received was sent from Brian Brack and cc'd to Twyla Graff. So out of common courtesy and professionalism, we contacted Brian twice and asked him who the letters should be directed to. Brian's response was:
"I would suggest your friends channel their questions through you and you can liase with me by phone or by email or make an appointment to see me in person."
again contacted him explaining that the questions would likely be of a
more general nature (some of which would not be in his purview) with
regard to the bylaw and he has still not responded after 11 days.
Therefore we went ahead and did what we thought made sense. This
approach is not about "carrying weight" but about sharing information
and bringing others into the loop. If you reread our email, you will see
that the thrust of our concerns are for food security and
sustainability on Vancouver Island. Does it not make sense then, that we
would at least include the Regional District?
Re: your comment about "children as pawns"
We feel disappointed that you see it that way. Were you thinking that we were asking parents to instruct their children as to what to write? Absolutely not. We know our friends would share the situation with their family; and the children, out of their own concern, would write from their own hearts and minds. Is that a pawn or a participant? Let us tell you how we see it: Children are human beings, members of society and the adults and taxpayers of tomorrow. We were simply pointing that out to whom the email was directed, since this fact may not be obvious to some parents and adults. Furthermore, we have always had many children in our lives and from the neighbourhood who participate in what we are doing here. We see them as equally significant and important in the "chess game" called "life". "Pawns" would be people like Bylaw Enforcement Officers who are cannon fodder for the battles waged in our communities. It is well known by people who are politically astute that when a child shares their own personal experience and views on whatever matter, that it carries similar if not even greater weight. That is because children have not yet learned all of the egoic, political posturing that goes on between adults, bureaucrats and politicians so they tend to come from a simpler and purer place (like "save the salmon"). With this explanation, we hope that you will now read more positively into our intention and less negatively. Finally, if you (and we) want our children to actively participate in our community, including the "democratic process" - at what age should they start?
Regarding your three questions,
1) Please explain how Lantzville agricultural land is "inadequate for farming".
2) What do you think "intensive" means? If you research it on the internet, you will find that it means to use far less space, soil and water than in "conventional" methods. In short, it is a higher yielding vegetable garden - it is also known as "mini-farming". "What the neighbours think" is certainly important, we hope that that is balanced with what is good for Lantzville as a community and all those residing in this bio-region.
3) Some urban and SPIN farmers have a small greenhouse for starting plants but most utilize cloches or cold frames (see the link below). We have never seen or even heard of lights being used by small scale organic farmers.
Yours in service,
Dirk Becker and Nicole Shaw
Understood. Actually, the email was not directed "at" you or others. We were simply sharing our situation with our friends, period. How they choose to respond, is up to them. It also bears mentioning that we sent an email six days ago to all of Council (including you), Twyla Graff and Brian Brack, out of courtesy, letting you folks know that you may be contacted with questions. Only Brian Dempsey and Rod Negrave responded. You, on the other hand, did not respond to the email that we directed to you. Instead, you are responding to an email sent to our friends.Hello Nicole,While the email I was referring to was not directed to me, it certainly was directed at me as well as others on Council and the RDN board.
If your goal in the broader sense is to create small scale agricultural opportunities within residentiallyzoned areas I can appreciate that you have emailed the RDN directors as a whole. However, yoursubject line was "Dirk and Nicole have been ordered to stop farming!". So the natural response ofthe receipients, despite your request, will be to demand that the RDN directors allow Dirk and Nicole to farm.
However, these individuals have no ability nor desire to allow Dirk and Nicole tofarm and therefore the resulting demands are misguided in my opinion.
As I stated before, BrianBrack works essentially under the direction of the administration of the District and if you havea complaint regarding his activities I suggest you contact Twyla Graff or Council.
Regarding the children, if you will reread my email at no time did I suggest children should notwrite letters nor did I suggest that you were asking parents to instruct their children what towrite.
I merely stated that it has been my experience that children can be used as pawnsrather than informed individuals.
Further you seem to have a desire from your email to haveissues dealt without "egoic, political posturing"
yet you basically state that those that know that the use of children to get the message out will be better off are "politically astute".
Frankly, I admire children that get involved at an early age not for their simple message but rather their awareness of the world around them.
However, to suggest the use of them by the "politically astute" is what I worry about.
Lastly regarding the questions, thank you for the responses. That was unexpected at this time butrather more of a "heads up" of possible questions if you chose to make a presentation to Council.In terms of your responses to the questions I might clarify two of them.1) In terms of existing Lantzville agricultural land, I am curious as to why it cannot be used forsuch intensive agricultural activities as opposed to existing residential land?
2) While I fully appreciate what the definition is of "intensive", the main point of my question waswondering what the neighbours adjacent or within the surrounding area of such intensiveagricultural activities thought of this type of use of the land?
Thanks again and I look forward meeting to discuss how Lantzville can balance what is goodfor Lantzville and the surrounding areas.Sincerely,Colin Haime
For myself it is suffice to say that between insinuations, assumptions and semantics you and I shouldagree to disagree regarding a variety of meanings and intent.
What appears to have been lost or not recognized in this is that at no time did I express oppositionto either your ideals nor your goal with respect to land use in Lantzville.
"...these individuals have no ability nor desire to allow Dirk and Nicole to farm".
However I am also not willing to rush forward and endorse a land use without considering alternatives, implications and effects of such a decision.
Further it is incumbent on an individual who is a member of council to remain open minded to an issue prior to having full information on on the issue as well as alternatives implications and effects. This is especially critical when the issue surrounds land use as land use decisions can be challenged if a council member has a bias towards an outcome to the extent that they ignore other information before them.
That is why in both of my previous emails I invited you to appear as a delegation before Council so that all Council members can further understand both the issues and the challenges in addressing these issues.
As an aside to the above, the correspondence that you sent on November 9th did not request a reply. It supplied a history of the property, a request that Council members consider the importance of growing local food and a "heads up" that we may be contacted by residents regarding the zoning bylaw.
We are glad to read that you seem to be finally beginning to grasp that which has been our point all along. Based on the fact that we have raised an issue that definitely affects everyone in Lantzville since the bigger issue is food, food security and sustainability. Urban farming and the need for it to be "decriminalized" is only one, but very important piece of the long range sustainability puzzle.Just as a suggestion with respect to process, based on the fact that you have raised an issue that effects not only yourselves but possibly others in Lantzville,
you could consider appearing before Council and requesting that Council give consideration to directing Bylaw Enforcement to cease the current enforcement activities until some later date.
This would give Council adequate time to consider what reports/data/information/opinions they may need in terms of possibly directing changes to existing zoning and/or Home based business bylaws on a broader scale or possibly consider site specific zoning if it was applied for.
Just some suggestions.Colin Haime
on the fact you have chosen to dissect each of my emails section by
section and criticize each statement including ones that were done to
provide you with direction on how to proceed I request that further
correspondence regarding this matter be sent through the District email
address of firstname.lastname@example.org as opposed to this email address.
That way all correspondence will be done to the attention of Council as a whole.
Please note that emails to that email address become property of the District and an item of public record.
Further, I am a member of Council just like any other and am entitled to express my own thoughts. I will continue to do so.
You have challenged my objectivity, my actions, my astuteness and by my estimation, my intelligence. I will leave those alone.
My mandate however, is to protect the interests of all 3600 residents of Lantzville. That is defined not by yourself but by provincial legislation and those 3600 residents. I can assure you that I did not go beyond that.
your second email, among other things you said, "However, these
individuals [RDN Directors] have no ability nor desire to allow Dirk and
farm and therefore the resulting demands are misguided in my opinion." That, we assure you, is going beyond your "mandate" and is greatly lacking in fairness and "objectivity". In our last email, we let you know that we saw you visiting our neighbours' homes and offered that it would have been a good opportunity for you to stop in for a tour and learn more about what we are doing. Not only did you not stop in, you haven't acknowledged that you even read it in this last email. Again, that seems to be lacking in "fairness" and "objectivity".
Our mandate (Dirk and Nicole's) is to take the long term interests of all 3600 residents into account (and the 100,000 + residents of the RDN and the long term well being of an island that only grows 5% of its food). This is defined through processes like the OCP which provides the opportunity for the taxpaying citizens of Lantzville to change local bylaws within the framework of provincial legislation.