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Back Environment Environment Agriculture & Food Banned Video on Southlands Battle Now Online

Banned Video on Southlands Battle Now Online

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Saving the Southlands

A new 13 min documentary - produced by filmmaker Damien Gillis in partnership with a number of Tsawwassen groups and citizens - is now available online. "Saving the Southlands" tells the story of the 30-year battle to protect a 500-acre parcel of prime farmland in Tsawwassen from housing development - set against the backdrop of an emerging food security crisis in BC.

The film was recently censored by Delta Council during their ongoing public hearings on the question of returning the Southlands/Spetifore Farm property to the ALR. Having allowed the first five minutes to be played on the opening night of the hearing - over the vocal objections of supporters of Southlands owner Century Group's proposed development of 1,900 homes on the property - Council refused the following evening to play the remainder. They went as far as to reject the film even as a submission for councillors to view privately, on the grounds that it "may contain libel" (emphasis added).

"Saving the Southlands" features a number of Tsawwassen residents, Richmond City Councillor and ALR co-founder Harold Steves, agrologist Arzeena Hamir, and also profiles several local community farming success stories. Funded entirely by citizens, a number of whom were also involved in the production, its release comes in the midst of a landmark public hearing after which council will vote on whether to apply to the Agricultural Land Commission to return the Southlands to the ALR. The property was removed 30 years ago under questionable evidence, but has remained protected by its municipal agricultural zoning. Owner Century Group has been ramping up its efforts over the past year to get that changed. Now inclusion in the ALR could finally bring this saga to a close, opening the door to other potential models, such as a land trust with urban farming and nature conservancy components, favoured by many int he community.