Monday, Sept. 25, 2023 edition - The hands that feed you
Monday, Sept. 25, 2023 | ⛈ High 18C
My friends and I hold our own holiday every autumn called Fall Day. We started the tradition during the pandemic and it’s held up every year since then. The premise of Fall Day is simple: we all get pumpkin spice lattes, go for a walk somewhere with nice fall leaves (apparently, in the States, they call this “leaf peeping,” which is just a horrendous term), then we go home to bake and watch Gilmore Girls. Last year, I made cinnamon sugar donuts and we ate so many we felt like we might die.
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Migrant farm workers face harsh conditions in the Fraser Valley and beyond
Juan Dircao has worked in BC for the last 15 years. He earns between double and triple what he could in Mexico, and sends his earnings back home to support his family. 📷️ Zac Vescera
Brussels sprouts and cucumbers. Apples and berries. Fruits and vegetables grow throughout the Fraser Valley and, delicate once ripened, are picked mostly by hand.
But the workers who harvest the produce are often subject to harsh conditions, from inadequate housing to abusive employers. The hands that feed the valley—and the rest of the province—are often bitten by the system that brought them here.
Today, we’re sharing a series by our friends at The Tyee on the conditions migrant farm workers face in BC and here in the Fraser Valley, where much of the province's food is grown.
Need to know
🌧️ A “bomb cyclone” is forecast to hit BC’s southern coast; high streamflow advisories have been issued for the Lower Mainland [CBC]
🩺 A panel of patients called for improved electronic medical records, among other things, as potential solutions in the province’s primary health care crisis [The Tyee]
🦉 Two more spotted owls have been released into the wild into the Fraser Canyon [BC Government] / Earlier this year, the Current wrote about the release of two birds in 2022; this spring, two of those released birds were found dead [FVC]
🙍♂️ The mayor of Harrison Hot Springs blamed a “gag order” for his non-attendance at the UBCM convention [Agassiz-Harrison Observer]
🍙 A snack shop in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood has garnered worldwide TikTok fame [CBC]
🚗 Three car crashes in less than 30 minutes in Chilliwack on Friday resulted in one road closure and several injuries [Chilliwack Progress]
👉️ A body was found in Langley City’s Nicomekl Park on Friday night [Langley Advance Times]
🗳️ Former Harrison Hot Springs mayor John Allen was elected to Harrison Hot Springs village council in a byelection [Agassiz-Harrison Observer]
🐻 A black bear seen wandering Langley City was captured by conservation officers on Sunday [Langley Advance Times]
➡️ More support will be needed to continue research into Fraser Valley residential schools, Indigenous leaders say [Abbotsford News]
☑️ Mission’s school board chair was re-elected to her position after a vote on Tuesday [Mission Record]
🧑🚒 A firefighter from Sts’ailes First Nation was among four killed in a car accident last week [Agassiz-Harrison Observer]
👉️ Police are looking for witnesses to an assault on a homeless woman in Langley earlier this month [Langley Advance Times]
🥫 An annual food drive in Langley filled a van with Thanksgiving supplies for food banks [Langley Advance Times]
➡️ A walk honouring veterans in Abbotsford included displays of past and present military vehicles and equipment [Abbotsford News]
🏗️ Langley City will be part of a pilot program for digital building permits [Langley Advance Times]
🏠 Experience all the University of the Fraser Valley has to offer at UFV’s Open House on October 21, 2023, in Abbotsford. RSVP today!*
🚜 Abbotsford Tech District will help address two of the biggest challenges British Columbia faces - affordability and food security - with "innovation we can eat." Read more.*
Airbnb and other short-term rentals are increasing throughout the Fraser Valley. 📷️ Daniel Krason/Shutterstock
Short-term rentals tying up dozens of homes
Chilliwack, Abbotsford, and Langley have all seen a substantial increase over the last year in the number of Airbnb and other short-term rental properties. And many of those new tourist-oriented rentals have come at the cost of the housing stock for local residents, according to a report.
In June, there were about 350 daily active listings of short-term rentals in Abbotsford, Burnaby, and Chilliwack. Of those, 180 were in Abbotsford, 140 were in Chilliwack, and 30 were in Langley. Those figures are substantially higher than in 2022, with listings growing by 57.1% in Abbotsford, 28% in Chilliwack, and 81% in Langley.
The numbers are contained within a report on BC’s short-term rental market by researchers at McGill University’s school of urban planning.
The researchers estimated that in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, and Langley, the short-term rentals have resulted in the loss of around 207 housing units from the supply of homes in the region. That’s 65 housing units more than were lost to STRs in June 2022.
Those are a drop in the bucket compared to what has happened across the rest of the southwest coast, where researchers estimate that around 8,500 homes have been lost to short-term rentals.
You can read the full report here.
Gravel company faces bill for rebuilding new road
The extension of Marshall Road through western Abbotsford was supposed to provide a vital new link between the city and Langley and take pressure off of Fraser Highway to the north.
But nearly a year after politicians gathered to celebrate the four-lane road’s opening, it remains closed.
The extension was opened Oct. 29, but closed just two weeks later on Nov. 10, after settlement of the underlying ground led to “dips in the road.” The road was built for more than $9 million through farmland that had been extensively mined for gravel. (Such operations are widespread in the area; they’re permitted on farmland so long as they seek to improve the land’s agricultural viability over the long-term.)
A city spokesperson told The Current construction is continuing, but that the road is expected to re-open by the end of the year if the weather co-operates. The cost for rebuilding the road, meanwhile, is being borne by Fraser Valley Aggregates, a local gravel company.
SPONSORED BY BREWHALLA
Brewhalla Is Coming to Chilliwack!
The inaugural Brewhalla Chilliwack will take place at Watson Glen Park on October 7th from 12-6 PM. Sample craft beverages from 30+ vendors, try out a new food truck, listen to some live music, and challenge your friends to some activities. We can't wait to cheers you 🍻
Things to do
🌳 Nature walk: Join author Natalie Lang for a guided nature walk at Willband Creek Park in Abbotsford on Sept. 30. Taking place on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the event will incorporate Indigenous history and awareness of the area. Details online.
🐰 Furry friends: Elizabeth's Wildlife Centre will celebrate the grand opening of its new building with an open house on Sept 30 and Oct. 1. Meet some new furry friends and learn about the non-profit. Details online.
🖇️ Shred-a-thon: Friends of Abbotsford Libraries is hosting its annual shred-a-thon in the back parking lot of Sevenoaks Shopping Centre on Sept. 30. Money raised will go to support library programs and services.
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