Preserving a Critical Farmland Asset in BC
Updated: Jul 4
June 21, 2022, Surrey Shows Support for Continued Farming.
The City of Surrey has thrown its support behind the family, with statements from Mayor Doug McCallum as well as City Councillor Linda Annis appealing to the federal ministry to step in.
McCallum says in a statement that the city will bid on the property, should the federal government make it available.
“The fertile land in question at 192nd Street and 36th Avenue is a vital piece of farmland that should remain untouched. If the federal government were to make this property available to the City of Surrey, I would ensure an offer would be made. If successful, I would pledge that the property would remain as farmland so it can produce harvest after harvest for generations to come,” McCallum said Tuesday.
June 21, 2022, Tristin Bouwman, Heppell Farms, Provided the Following.
Just a quick update on our efforts to save the farmland on 192nd.
The petition as of July 4th is at almost 50,000 signatures.
Traditional media interest continues. The Province/Sun ran a story yesterday. Gobal TV ran the story last night. Interest continues to grow. Mike Bose will continue to be the main person from this.
Tyler is doing an excellent job on social media.
I have written to various decision makers giving them the backgrounder.
I have attached it here in case you need it handy. Please feel free to share with anyone who may be interested.
This is an uphill battle. We’re building momentum. With the angels, along with the public, are on our side, its a battle we can win."
June 20, 2022, Tako van Popta, MP for Langley-Aldergrove, Reported the Following.
"I have had several meetings with my colleague Kerry-Lynne Findlay and liberal MP John Aldag on this issue. Kerry-Lynne and I also had a site meeting with Mr. Heppell and others, including someone from your group of Langley residents. And we had a briefing from government officials to learn more about the process around federal lands being declared “excess”, and in particular this specific site. This issue is very much on their radar and I’ll keep advocating for preserving this land for agriculture."
June 8, 2022 The following is a letter of support from the Surrey Farmers Institute.
The letter urges policy makers to preserve this critical farmland asset considered essential as a part of building a sustainable community for current and future generations.
June 7, 2022 A Petition is Published to Alert Interested Parties
Tristin of Heppells puts out a petition for all who are interested to sign. In support, the petition was subsequently distributed to Brookswood neighbours and others that could raise interest. See the petition at https://chng.it/Bq5vKskZmJ
May 12, 2022 Status Report from Kyle Latchford, Office Manager for John Aldag, MP
MP Aldag has sent a letter requesting a technical briefing with ISED and the Minister of Procurement. He met with MP Hardie, MP Van Popta, and MP Findlay and they all signed onto this letter. The MP is still waiting on that briefing, however.
On Going meetings with various levels of government
Fostered by Heppell Farms, meetings continue to be arranged with key decision makers to acquaint them with the importance of food security and the role that this Federal Property plays in supporting the production of vegetables for the Lower Mainland of BC.
On March 10, 2022, a meeting took place at the Federal Property.
The meeting was attended by:
Kerry-Lynne Findlay, MP for South Surrey/White Rock,
Tako Van Popta, MP for Langley/Aldergrove,
Tristin Bouwman, Heppell Farms,
Rod Hull, Brookswood Resident,
Mike Bose, Heppell Farms.
There will be meeting with John Aldag, MP for Cloverdale/Langley City to consider options. The following was from Rod Hull following this meeting.
"Thank you all for your interest in protecting the Federal Land and meeting at Heppell's farm on March 10.
I believe we had much that we agreed on including the vital needs to protect valuable productive farmland, biodiversity and our green corridors. It has become shockingly clear the importance of food security for our wellbeing and national security; and the unique productivity of these lands in providing vegetables to Canada.
We understand you will be looking into ways to protect the Federal Lands, including:
1. Meeting with local Liberal MP's.
2. One possibility we discussed was for the Federal Government to submit a request to the BC Land Commission to include the farmland in the Provincial ALR.
3. Look into the example of the Richmond Garden City Lands protected within ALR.
4. Pursue options of the example of Rouge National Urban Park:
5. Another option that I hope is considered is for the Federal Government to protect these Federal Lands within the Government's commitment of conserving 30% of Canada's lands by 2030: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/environment/conservation/nature-legacy.html
In the face of population growth, urbanization, industrial development, and global climate change, Canada has established domestic and international biodiversity goals. These goals include conserving a quarter of Canada’s lands and a quarter of its oceans by 2025, and working toward conserving 30% by 2030.
I hope we can all work together to support the City of Surrey's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy to protect this land and the green corridors linked to Langley's green corridors:
I wish you well, and hope we may work together to protect these precious lands."
On February 2, 2022, a meeting took place at the Federal Property.
The meeting was attended by:
Linda Annis, Councillor, City of Surrey
Mike Bose, Heppell Farms
Ron Heppell, Heppell Farms,
Wes Heppell, Heppell Farms,
Tristin Bouwman, Heppell Farms,
Nigel Bell, Langley Resident,
Rod Hull, Langley Resident.
The focus was to acquaint Linda Annis with the issues and the future of these Federal Lands as part of the Campbell Heights North Industrial plans.
On November 16, 2021, a meeting was held at Heppell Farms
This was kind of a meet and greet of some of those with an interest in maintaining the farming of the federal property at 3884 192 St.
In attendance were:
Nigel Bell, Langley neighbour and retired federal employee who once managed the property prior to 2008.
Rod Hull, Langley neighbour and champion of maintaining the property as is.
Wes Heppell, Mike Bose and Tristin Bouwman representing the Heppell corporation.
John Aldag, MP for the area, and his assistant Kyle Latchford.
Discussion was centred on Heppells interest in continuing to farm the subject federal property and wanting to ensure its continued agricultural use. Nigel stated briefly that the property has been declared surplus by ISED, the current custodial federal department and that sale of the property depends on the result of canvassing federal, provincial and other levels of government about an interest in its use. Indigenous interest is also being determined, but progress with that remains confidential. As reported by Billy Ng of Federal Public Works, the canvassing process should be completed by the end of this year. If there is no other interest in the property, it may then proceed to a sale. Heppells advised that they currently lease approximately 215 of the 300 acres, and have done so for almost 50 years on an annual basis. During that time, they have continuously improved the soil. See the following report from Tristin Bouwman.
There was general discussion about what could be done to preserve the current use of the property. John advised that he would take the issue to Ottawa and see if something could be done with federal partners based on the need for good agricultural land and sustained support for woodlands.
Rod provided a briefing and suggested that one possibility is partnering with local initiatives, one of which is Simon Fraser University.
A tour of the property the was arranged so that John and Kyle could appreciate the importance of the land. Options continue to be explored.
This is a Statement from Heppells Potato Corp. regarding the farmland at 3884 – 192 nd St., Surrey, BC.
It is summarized as follows.
- Some of Canada’s best farmland – located in Surrey BC – is slated to be developed into
industrial land if sold.
- The land – approximately 300 acres – is currently owned by the Federal Government.
and managed by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
- The land is some of Canada’s most farmable land and is vital to western Canada’s fresh
- To secure the needs of the Vancouver’s and Western Canada’s current and future food
system, Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada should continue to
lease 215 acres to farmers.
1. The land plays a crucial role in the food supply of the Greater Vancouver Area and in
a. This land has a 4-6 week head start on other fields in BC. It supplies 1 :
i. Most to all BC’s June - early July carrot production.
ii. Most to all BC’s May - early July cabbage production (red, white and
iii. About 1/3 of BC’s May, June and early July potato production.
iv. A substantial amount of BC’s early squash and parsnip
(These production estimates are currently being verified by experts at BCFresh.)
b. Each year, the land produces about 10 million servings of fresh, nutritious
vegetables. This food supplies local farmers markets and retailers and, by July,
reaches all Western Canada.
c. This supply directly displaces foreign imports from the United States and Mexico.
d. In recent years, Canada’s trading partners have become increasingly
protectionist and supply chains have undergone considerable disruption. This
early vegetable land displaces Canada’s reliance on foreign food imports.
2. The land has unique features that do not exist elsewhere in Canada:
a. The unique land is located on a sandy glacial deposit and featuring:
i. Uniquely sandy soil that can support farm equipment even after heavy
ii. A warmer micro-climate with reduced frost risk.
iii. Exceptional drainage that makes the land resilient to extreme
iv. The land provides consistency to early BC production: harvesting
activities remain possible when other early fields in the region are too
wet for equipment access.
3. The land is being used to its highest production capability:
a. The land is farmed by Heppell’s Potato Corp. and Canadian Farms. These farms
use state of the art technology and management practices to ensure the land’s
early production capacity. This includes re-usable cloth to create greenhouse
conditions for the potatoes and black mulch to warm the soil for the squash.
b. Both Heppells Potato Corp. and Canadain Farms have washing and packaging
facilities near to the land. This allows the farms to harvest and pack same-day
orders from customers.
4. The land also plays an important role in employment and the local economy:
a. Heppell’s Potato Corp. and and Canadian Farms rely heavily on the land for their
b. Canadian Farms employs 75-100 people.
c. Heppells employs 45-60 people and approximately 30% of its revenue comes
from the lands in question.
d. Heppells plays an additional role in local employment through its venture –
Naturally Homegrown Foods the manufactures of Hardbite Chips – which
employs over 70 people.
e. Agricultural production has the strongest economic multiplier.
f. The land supplies produce for a large number of other businesses including
farmer’s markets, retailers, restaurants and processers.
5. During its 47-year tenancy, Heppells has made substantial improvements to the land:
a. In the 1970s, Heppells began leasing the land and cleared the land of brush and
b. The land is now prime early farmland with an exceptional yield potential. Prior to
1974, the land was considered marginal for agricultural use with poor water
retention and excessive stoniness.
c. (The land had been used during World War II as a radar facility and was then
used for communication across the Pacific until undersea cables were laid in the
1960s – hence the land’s is known by the name, “Communications”).
d. From the 1970s to 2000s Heppells have spent countless hours removing the
stones from the land, leaving behind the fertile sand.
e. In the 1980s Heppells invested in irrigation infrastructure including wells and a
system of over 1800m of underground piping for fresh water.
f. During its tenancy, Heppells has invested over $450,000 CAD (present value) in
the land’s irrigation infrastructure and infrastructure maintenance.
g. Heppells has asked to purchase the land from the Federal Government but was
denied this opportunity. Heppells has continued to invest in the land’s long-term
h. Heppells uses best management practices and regenerative agriculture
principles including cover crops and catch crops, crop rotation and livestock
inputs to maintain and build soil organic matter (i.e. sequestering carbon) and
prevent nutrient losses and erosion.
i. Heppells adds /returns thousands of tons of organic matter (carbon) into the
land annually to maintain the land’s high production capacity.
6. The land plays a role in climate change adaptation and mitigation:
a. Climate forecasts predict heavier rains in the spring and fall in BC’s West Coast.
b. The land’s unique drainage capacity enables planting and harvest operations to
continue after heavy rainfall which is impossible on most other land in BC.
c. Losing the land from agricultural production would make BC’s early food supply
more vulnerable to supply shortages when extreme weather events occur.
d. The land’s soil contains an approximately 10,000 metric tons of carbon which
could be lost if the land is developed.
e. By displacing foreign imports (e.g. Californian and Mexican production), the land
reduces green-house gas emissions associated with long-distance transport.
This was an email received from Wes Heppell on March 10, 2021 concerning possible disposal of the Federal Land at 3884 192 Street, Surrey. It was in response to the letter sent to all our neighbours about the issues we are focused on. Nigel, It has been a very long time since we have talked. Hope you are well thru these troubling times.
It would be beneficial to have a conversation of what you have heard about Communication land. We have been informed that they want to put it out tender which we oppose due to all the capital expenditures for upgrades we have put into the property. We wrote a letter laying out costs of upgrades and processes undertaken to ensure land would be viable for next generation. Also went thru how strategic this parcel of land is in producing first potatoes, carrots and cabbage to market each year in Canada. I received a email back 4 weeks ago saying they received my email and would respond with in 2 weeks. We have not heard back and will follow up on our desire to have a meeting on site to look at lands and talk thru important points. We will keep you informed in what transpires. I will cc Mias -Heppell GM and Tristin- Heppell’s crop manager. Would like to organize a call with you if possible. Wes