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Company amassing options on protected Delta farmland

A development company has quietly put together $100 million in options to purchase 226 hectares of Delta farmland now protected in the agricultural land reserve, independent MLA Vicki Huntington said today.

"[Land title documents] just prove the fact the land has been optioned, that farmers have accepted large amounts of money and the intention is to move full speed ahead as soon as the options have been exercised," said Huntington.

All but one of the options expire on Nov. 30, 2013, just six months after the next provincial election, she noted. "I found that very telling."

Lamington Heights Investments, a company with a Howe Street lawyer, has acquired the options on 11 land parcels belonging to half a dozen owners, according to research by staff in Huntington's office.

The parcels border land B.C. Rail acquired in 2009 and former ALR land that was transferred to the Tsawwassen First Nation as part of treaty settlement.

Huntington said Lamington is working with Emerson Real Estate Group, a company that "specializes in confidential industrial land acquisition." The plan appears to be to use the land to expand the port capacity for companies like CN Rail, CP Rail and Western Stevedoring, she said.

"The government knows all about this. They're supportive of it," she said. "The province has already made up its mind about the value of the agricultural land in Delta, obviously. Now the people have to decide."

The land, which is also part of a migratory bird flyway, should be left in the ALR, said Huntington.

"It has to be protected as the prime agricultural soil that it is," she said. "With a government that refuses to look at the environmental values, it's hard to force them to review the use of this land for anything but Gateway."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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