White Spot Boycott Called by FVCC
Taking Farmland Off the Menu
WHITE SPOT BOYCOTTED
Delta, Friday June 29, 2007
The Fraser Valley Conservation Coalition (“FVCC”) today called on agricultural protection advocates, consumers, wildlife conservationists and environmentalists to boycott White Spot Restaurant until its parent company stops trying to remove farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve (“ALR”) for development.
The boycott follows a public information meeting in Delta on Wednesday, June 27th, where Ron Toigo, Owner of White Spot’s parent company, Shato Holdings Ltd. and Vice President of White Spot Restaurants, told hundreds of people that if his current proposal to remove 27 acres of Delta farmland from the ALR for an upscale residential/commercial development does not succeed, he will apply to remove other of his company’s farmland from the protection of the ALR. One of the parcels of land identified for subsequent exclusion application is a 10.6 acre parcel of Class 1 prime agricultural soil, currently being farmed.
“This kind of coercive attack on farmland must not be tolerated,” declared Donna Passmore, agricultural campaigner with FVCC. “We are alarmed that the parent company of one of BC’s oldest and largest food service organizations is not more sensitive to the need to protect farmland. This is a very wealthy and well-connected corporation, but in this instance consumers have the ultimate power.”
Prior to the boycott call, FVCC provided Toigo with an electronic copy of the Campbell government’s British Columbia’s Food Self Reliance Report, which concludes that within the next 15 years the province will require 240,000 more acres of irrigated farmland than it currently has in order to meet the needs of our population.
Because the area has very high wildlife values, FVCC also advised him of the findings of Rich Wildlife Poor Protection, a report recently jointly issued by the David Suzuki Foundation and Sierra Legal Defence Fund that paints a grim picture about the state of BC’s wildlife, including that 17% of BC’s wildfowl population is in peril from lack of protection. FVCC points to Delta’s visiting Snow Geese as a classic example of the report’s findings.
In the spring of 2007, the Canadian Wildlife Service issued hunting permits to kill tens of thousands of Snow Geese, because loss of habitat meant that this region is no longer able to support their population. Between late February and early April, Snow Geese stop to feed in the salt water marshes and adjacent farmlands of Boundary Bay, and Delta is one of their primary stopovers. The annual return of the Snow Geese is a much-loved harbinger of spring to the people of the region and their dire circumstances are a poignant reminder that our foodlands are as important to other species as to humans.
The boycott extends to food services on BC ferries, which are operated by White Spot Restaurants.
“We are asking people to brown-bag-it and dine el fresco when traveling by ferry this summer,” adds Passmore.
FVCC indicates that the boycott will be in place until Shato Holdings cancels all applications to remove farmland from the ALR.
Rotating protests outside White Spot venues around the province will begin in mid-July.