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Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Elected as a Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly for the Constituency of Saanich South on May 12, 2009. New Democratic Opposition Critic for the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. Raised on Quadra Island and has an undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia. Extensive track record as a community leader, advocate and environmental activist.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I've moved to a new website

This blog will live on as an unedited digital memory of the 2009 campaign.

Thanks again to everyone who made it happen!

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm getting organized!


I hope everyone is having a good summer.

I've been working very hard to set-up my Constituency Office and get organized at the Legislature. My goal is to have the office open by Mid August. And the Legislature begins sitting in just over one month, on August the 25th.

As you may know, I was recently appointed the NDP Agriculture Critic!

My passion for food production in British Columbia runs deep and I am so fortunate to have this opportunity. Thank you!

Food has always fascinated me. As long as I can remember, I have loved to prepare it and been intrigued by how it grows...and now I have officially been given the responsibility to fight for it!

Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food movement, once said, “I am a gastronome. No, not the glutton with no sense of restraint whose enjoyment of food is greater the more plentiful and forbidden it is. No, not a fool who is given to the pleasures of the table and indifferent to how the food got there. I like to imagine the hands of the people who grew it, transported it, processed it, and cooked it before it was served to me.”

We are starting to have a renewed awareness about our food and where it comes from. We are starting to see a growing demand for local, clean, safe products. We, as eaters, are a new political force. I strongly believe that we are the key to successful agriculture in British Columbia. Misdirected policy is taking away our choices, but as eaters, we have the power to make sure we go in the right direction.

There has never been a time when politics and food have so dangerously crossed paths.

Demand local food, demand safe food, demand clean food.

I promise you that I will be doing the same.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saanich News: Election Wrap SAANICH SOUTH

Saanich News
Election Wrap SAANICH SOUTH: Popham pledges push for light rail

By Keith Vass - Saanich News

Published: May 14, 2009 2:00 PM
Updated: May 14, 2009 2:18 PM

Lana Popham wasn’t quite ready to believe the result until the last poll was counted.

“I needed to see my name with that check mark beside it and that didn’t happen until 11:30,” said the newly-elected Saanich South MLA, the morning after voters chose her to represent the riding by a narrow margin of 413 votes over her nearest challenger, Liberal candidate Robin Adair.

The close result, in which Popham claimed 47 per cent of ballots cast, made a point she says she’ll take with her to the legislature.

“For me, the message was I’d better work hard for these guys because they put their faith in me last night and I’m not going to let them down.”

Over at McMorran’s Beach house in Cordova Bay, a crowd of more than 200 Adair supporters felt the highs and lows of watching their candidate’s numbers flirt with the lead. During one 30-minute stretch, the running tally went from showing Popham leading by 400 votes, to Adair pulling ahead by 200 and then back to Popham in the lead.

“Everybody said this was going to be a very close race and they were right,” Adair told the crowd when he appeared onstage to concede defeat and thank his team just after 11 p.m.

Adair told reporters his plan now is to return to his communications consulting business.

But he added the community may have had a better shot at winning government infrastructure investments if they’d elected a government member.

“I don’t know how effective (Popham) will be in getting the kind of infrastructure money to Saanich South that (it) needs for overpasses or roadways or buildings or other things it needs,” he said.

Popham countered by saying she will go the legislature as part of a chorus of voices, including community groups and South Island municipalities, calling on the province to invest in light rail transit for the region.

“We may have gotten an overpass if (Adair) was elected ... but I don’t think that’s one of the projects we need,” she said.

Popham will wait to learn if she will be selected for an official critic’s role in the NDP opposition. But the organic vineyard and winery owner said she would like to be considered for the agricultural critic’s job left open by retiring NDP MLA Corky Evans.

She has leased her land and winery to other producers, enabling her to focus on her new job as an MLA, she said.

“But I’m a farmer at heart so I hope I’m able to spend some of my time with that. I also have a 10-year-old son who I need to spend time with,” Popham said.

“It’ll be a challenge, finding the right balance, but I can do it, I’m sure. I’ve got endless energy.”

Saanich South results

X Lana Popham, NDP - 11,141 47.11%

Robin Adair, Lib - 10,728 45.37%

Brian Gordon, Green - 1,551 6.56%

Doug Christie, WCC - 228 0.96%

Results aren’t considered official until Elections B.C. conducts a final count May 25.

Saanich South electoral history

2009 - Lana Popham (NDP)

2005 - David Cubberley (NDP)

2001 - Susan Brice (Lib)

1996 - Andrew Petter (NDP)

1991 - Andrew Petter (NDP)

The riding was created in 1990 after the previous two-member riding of Saanich and the Islands was divided in two.

Find this article at:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thank you!

Thank you Saanich South for electing me as your next MLA! It is a privilege I intend to pay back by working as hard as I can over the next four years to make all of our lives better.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Bike to Work Week 2009

One day to the election but i'm never too busy for Bike to Work Week!

That is Bruce Carter (CEO Victoria Chamber of Commerce) and Rob Wickson, President Bike To Work Victoria.

Dave Goudy is on the left - he is one of the owners of Serious Coffee and a great supporter and sponsor of Bike to Work Week. Next is David Cubberley, retiring MLA of Saanich South.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Wow! Only four days left....

I've knocked on thousands of doors in the last month and everything I've heard has shaped my views of what we need our government to do and what I can do to best serve the interests of Saanich South.

I'd like to send a message directly to the people of Saanich South: thank you for opening up to me and sharing your fears and hopes, your personal experiences in our hospitals and schools, your worries about the economy and our environment, and so much more. I know it is difficult to express your thoughts to a stranger who has jut knocked on your door. But I am happy that so many of you are no longer strangers - that you took the leap to share a little of your own experiences with me. Thank you also for listening to what I believe and for showing me such respect - even when we disagreed on one issue or another.

I am galvanized by the trust so many of you are showing in me. My commitment to you is that I will work as hard as I can to sustain public health care, quality education and a clean environment.

My legs are aching from walking all over Saanich South - but my spirits are high. I've never been more confident that we can win this race.

To my supporters: there is still much more to do! Please take some time in the next few days to talk to your friends and family who live in the riding and share with them why you are voting for me. This race is very close and every vote will make a big difference.

I also have a message for those who are planning to vote Green: In Saanich South on May 12, the reality is that the Green Party candidate cannot win. Voting for the Green Party in this riding will keep an organic farmer and environmental activist OUT of the legislature. Please support me so I can fight as an MLA for the causes that we believe in. Both the Conservation Voters of BC and Guy Dauncey have endorsed me. You can read about my background asn environmental activist and views on the environment by clicking here.

Below is the lastest campaign video message from the NDP. It sums up very well why we need a change.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Campaign Photo Slideshow

Hi, here is a slideshow of campaign photos - so many great people have volunteered, it is really wonderful - thank you all!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Thank you Guy!


Guy Dauncey, the award-winning author of Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change and President of BC Sustainable Energy Association today endorsed Lana Popham for Saanich South in his widely read publication EcoNews. Dauncey wrote: "Lana will be a great advocate for agriculture and organic farming in BC, and a strong environmental presence in the Legislature."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A super busy week

Last week was incredible! I’d like to share a few snapshots to give you a feel of the campaign so far.

Yesterday I represented the New Democrats at a Agriculture debate on the mainland in the morning and marched in the Earth Day rally on the island in the early afternoon and then door-knocked until dusk. 

A few days ago the Conservation Voters of BC announced their endorsements for the election. They only supported four candidates in the whole province – and I was one of them! They wrote: “Our endorsements are designed to put stronger environmental voices in the BC legislature. Our endorsees are individuals who have shown strong leadership on climate change and other local issues. They will be an asset to the Legislature."

Last week was also very special because NDP Leader Carole James dropped by my farm to meet local farmers and hear, first hand, the issues that are important to them.  

Carole and I spoke about the importance of local agriculture and it turned into quite a gathering with local and provincial media and many, many supporters. Here is a video.

It was also an amazing week in terms of fund-raising, our best week ever. It is really very humbling to see so many people contributing what they can to this campaign – it definitely redoubles my commitment to work every day to protect our quality life and to secure our children’s future. We have a lot of money still to raise – please help! Click here to make a donation to the campaign.

The volunteer energy is electric! Heather, my campaign manager, often just shakes her head in happy disbelief! But we still need to ramp it up! Please drop by the office (4087 Quadra) call 250 479 2224 or email

A few upcoming public events you may be interested in:

  • April 28 - CFAX 1070, on-air debate between Lana, Dallas Henault (Liberal) and Adam Saab (Green) on the environment. 9 - 9:30 am. Please call-in and ask questions. 250 386 1161. 
  • April 29 - All candidates, Saanich South, 7:30 pm, Unitarian Church, 5575 West Saanich Road. Sponsored by Prospect Lake Community Assn.
  • April 30 - Food Matters, Regional (I’m representing the NDP), 7-9 pm, First Metropolitan Church Hall, 932 Balmoral (@ Quadra).

In honour of Earth Day on Wednesday, I handed out one hundred reusable shopping bags at local shopping centres – that was fun! Earth Day is great time to refocus on creating green options which can help people live in a sustainable way. On Earth Day I also joined Wilderness Committee’s ‘walk into the woods’ to view some of our local big trees. I pledged to work towards greater protection for the 100 largest and oldest trees in BC. We have tr

ees in this province that are over one thousand years old. They and their immediate ecosystems must be protected. 

And the week began on Sunday when I joined hundreds of people celebrating Vaisakhi at Victoria's Sikh Temple onTopaz Street. Vaisakhi is a four week celebration of harvest time celebrated by millions of people around the world. This year marked the 310th anniversary of the creation of the Khalsa when the Sikh faith was formalized. The growing enthusiasm about the festival of Vaisakhi shows how much pride British

Columbians take in the tradition and culture of B.C.'s Sikh, Indo-Canadian and South Asian communities. Vaisakhi allows all of us to come together and celebrate the South Asian community's culture as part of our province's collective heritage. It helps us learn about one another and strengthen our pride in our shared customs.

And this week will be even busier!!!


P.S., By the way, I am now twittering, please  click here if you want connect.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rally for Farmers!

Yesterday was a great day - it was a real honour to speak at the rally for farming and food security...and on the steps of the Legislature, no less. 

Brent Warner gave a really smart keynote on specific changes we need to make to our ag policy. He noted that in the 70s there were ten full time extension officers helping fruit farmers in the Okanagan - and today there are...NONE! Jordan Marr and Tom Henry did a super job organizing the event,  Organic Farmer Heather Stretch and local food expert Linda Geggie shared 
important insights...well done everybody!

I was humbled by all the support local farmers and food security advocates gave me - and it only deepened my resolve to work towards better farming policy in British Columbia. 

Following is the rough text of my speech... (I also gave shout-outs to the big crew of NDP provincial candidates who were there to show their support for farmers - but I didn't mention how not a SINGLE Liberal Candidate bothered to show up, depsite repeated invites. As Jordan said, their absence speaks volumes.) 

"Good afternoon, thank you for inviting me here today on a beautiful spring day. I know how critical these spring hours are to your farms and gardens - and I appreciate that you have all taken the time to be here.

I am here to talk to you about something that has driven me to step up to the challenge of provincial politics. I am speaking as a mother, I am speaking as an eater, I’m speaking as a community activist, I’m speaking for the New Democrats and I am speaking as a farmer.

I believe we are at a critical point with local food production, maybe even the tipping point, and I am here to tell you that I believe in agriculture!

So much of what we do, so many of the policies that we believe in are ultimately tied back to local farming and our food supply.

As a candidate for the NDP, I’m proud of my party’s commitments to support and protect farming, and I am personally committed to strengthen these commitments once elected.

For the past eight years, government has ignored the concerns of farmers and paid lip service to what I believe is one of the most important industries in BC.

Sometimes it seems like government is more concerned about defending their badly thought out policy rather than encouraging local farmers to be successful.

It’s about time that we put local food production first.

We need to bring integrity back to the Agricultural Land Commission. The ALC should be focused on protecting farmland. Period.

Lately it’s been distracted by court cases, conflicts of interest and allegations about questionable dealings.

We need to value our small lot farms. Farmers are being put though an exercise of having to prove themselves innocent while they are accused of being guilty of not using their land in ways that qualify them for farm status.

I sat through more than 20 BC Assessment appeals last year with farmers in our region who lost their battles. My friend Mary Alice Johnson had her farm split. It was like a slap in the face to farming as she is one of our finest food producers on the South Island. She asked the people who decided the fate of her farm ….”who is going to feed you? I am here for Mary Alice.

We need to restore the Buy BC Program that helped farmers and small business people promote their products to local consumers.

It’s inexpensive and it works. So why was it cut? Because politics got in the way and farmers paid the price. The NDP will bring this back.

We need to get rid of unworkable meat processing regulations.

We shouldn’t be punishing farmers, but rather helping them by creating a system that protects the public’s health without imposing prohibitive new costs. The NDP will do this.

We need to bring extension services back to farmers in BC so we stop losing our future farmers. The NDP will do this.

We can and we must maintain our community’s farming roots. If we are to thrive as a society then we need to rely on our farms more than ever.

Most importantly, we need to support the farmers we depend on. If we loose the fight for agricultural support we loose everything. That’s is not acceptable you, its not acceptable to me and its not acceptable to the New democrats.

We used to value agriculture in this province, and that is the BC that I want back.

Thank you for your support!"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Election Has Begun......Finally!

It's day two of a 28 day election period. The excitment has built for months and now it is a reality. The fight for our future in BC is going to be a tough one everywhere, but in Saanich South the race will be watched very closely.

Getting through the next month will be an adventure. I haven't had very many moments to sit back and reflect lately but I did get a chance to take my bike out on the weekend and ride around Saanich South. Saanich South is an amazing community. The urban/rural split makes it very unique. I feel lucky to live here and I am going to fight hard for the honor of being the MLA.

I would love your vote on May 12th!

Lana Popham

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 24th is No Tankers day!

Watch this.....and remember the devastation....if we lift the moratorium, like the Campbell Government wants to do, we will be reliving this nightmare.

From The Oil Free Coast Alliance......

In 1988, beaches along the west coast of Vancouver Island, between Uclulet and Tofino, were contaminated when oil swept north from a spill in Washington State after the fuel barge Nestucca collided and ruptured sending 890 tonnes of heavy bunker C oil into the ocean. Then, in 1989, one of the worst spills he world has seen occurred in Alaska when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in Prince William Sound, spilling approximately 11 million gallons of oil - roughly equivalent to 125 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Unprecedented levels of public outrage in B.C. and beyond, and fear of future disasters, led the federal government to leave the moratorium in place.

British Columbia’s offshore area includes four key basins: Georgia, between the east coast of Vancouver Island and the mainland; Queen Charlotte to the north, between Haida Gwaii and the mainland; and Winona and Tofino, off the west coast of Vancouver Island.

While the federal government has been considering lifting its moratorium in the north, on the Queen Charlotte Basin, the province wants the blanket moratorium lifted, which would allow offshore oil and gas in the Strait of Georgia and off the west coast of Vancouver Island.

A number of oil companies, including Chevron, Shell and ExxonMobile, hold leases to the seabed in these basins, which were issued by the federal and provincial governments before the moratorium was instituted. One of the great unknowns is just how much oil and gas would be found in B.C.’s offshore seabed. In order to find out, ecologically destructive seismic testing and exploratory drilling must take place. Risking damage to an exceptional marine environment with untold numbers of plant and animal species as well as jeopardizing ancient First Nations cultures and jobs is nothing more than reckless.

In 2004, the federal government asked British Columbians their views on the moratorium by conducting public hearings and First Nations interviews. The public review involved the participation of 3,700 individuals, many of who work and live on the B.C. coast. Seventy-five percent of the participants told the federal government that they wanted the moratorium maintained. The First Nations review, which involved 70 nations, found 100 percent support for maintaining the moratorium.

The B.C. government is ignoring the views of B.C. residents and First Nations by pressuring the federal government to lift the moratorium and open the coast to offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction. We must work together to protect the B.C. coast and coastal economy from this threat.

Offshore oil and gas development starts with seismic testing, a process used to find oil reserves, which comes with significant risk. This testing requires shooting high-pressure sound waves into the ocean. Impacts from such extreme pressure include the destruction of eggs and larvae, damage to fish with swim bladders, such as rockfish, and disruption of migratory paths of marine mammals. For more info on the impacts of seismic testing click here.

Oil spills continue to be one of the greatest threats from offshore oil and gas development. Research has shown the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 is still impacting the marine ecosystem. In addition to spills and blowouts, the industry produces drilling muds and produced waters, which flush poisons directly into the ocean. A single production platform can drill 50 to 100 wells and discharge over 90,000 metric tons of drilling fluids and metal cuttings directly into the ocean. What’s more, one offshore rig emits the same quantity of pollution as 7000 cars driving 50 miles a day.

Developing offshore oil and gas reserves will perpetuate our dependence on fossil fuels, which is contrary to Canada’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. It’s time to invest and encourage the development of alternative energies, such as wind and solar power.

When will they learn?

The BC Liberal government promised to reduce class sizes and improve support for students with special needs but they never provided the funding to get the job done. Instead, they downloaded additional costs onto local boards. As a result, 177 schools closed.

Last year, there were thousands of classes across the province that exceeded the government's own legislated requirements. There were more than 10,000 overcrowded classes that violated standards for students with special needs.

The mantra from the education minister of "highest ever" funding does not stand up to scrutiny. Data on inflation versus funding tells a different story. Compared to other provinces, BC is way behind. The numbers tell the story.

Improving the lives and education of children must be a priority. Read more in the BCTF Education Funding Brief.

When will the provincial government learn?

Look at

Our BC Education advocates are worried......

Jerry Oetting, president of CUPE Local 2081 representing staff at Camosun Community College and Paul Waterlander, a teacher in the Sooke School District,Lana Popham NDP Candidate Saanich South, Dr. Paul Shaker, former Dean and Professor at Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Education

Monday, March 9, 2009

Education advocates host forum on public education

VICTORIA—Come and find out why B.C. education advocates are worried about our public education system – from K-12 through to university – at a free public forum for residents of Greater Victoria. The forum is sponsored by the BC Coalition for Public Education.

Join us to hear Dr. Paul Shaker, former Dean and Professor at Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Education. Dr. Shaker will be joined by students, teachers and staff from the public school, college and university sectors.

Elsie McMurphy, trustee for the Saanich Board of Education (School District 63), Jerry Oetting, president of CUPE Local 2081 representing staff at Camosun Community College and Paul Waterlander, a teacher in the Sooke School District, and a representative of the UVic Students’ Society will offer brief comments on a range of education issues.

What: Free public education forum

When: March 10, 2009 7–9 pm

Where: Spectrum Community School Theatre

957 Burnside Road W. Victoria

The Coalition for Public Education supports and promotes universally accessible, quality public education and includes students, community organizations, and the people who teach and work in B.C.’s schools, colleges, institutes and universities.

Monday, March 9, 2009

CFAX 1070 News Release


Mar 8, 2009



"I think that's what people want. I don't think people want an MLA who is elected thats going to be bringing messages from the government to the community. I'm the type of MLA that will be bringing messages from our community to the government."



Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What a party!!!!

What a great night we had on Saturday! Over 150 volunteers joining our dream team that night and many more wonderful people who contacted us to attend our next volunteer party . This was the first of many thank-you parties we will be having as we move towards May 12th! It was so nice to see our community represented by our guests. We had people from business to agriculture and everywhere in between. A great big slice of Saanich South, and a great big thank-you to all of you!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Notes From The Campaign Trail.......

There are over 20,000 doors standing between me and election day, May 12th!

One of the most enjoyable parts of this campaign so far is the door knocking
around our Saanich South community. The different neighbourhoods are
interesting to explore. I had a similar enjoyable experience when I ran as a
candidate in the 2005 Saanich Municipal election. I've found people to be
both welcoming and good-natured as I introduce myself door by door. It's
reassuring each time a resident recognises me from my work in the community
or recognises my voice from being on CFAX with Joe Easingwood and offers a
kind word.

I have heard so many supportive comments and have received offers to help
with my campaign.

Door knocking is a bit like a thermometer. It's like I'm taking the
political temperature of our community as I spend the hours moving from
doorstep to doorstep and there have been many nice surprises along the way.
What has been very encouraging are the positive responses I have been
receiving in Broadmead. People told me Broadmead isn't traditionally an area
where New Democrats do well, but many people seem to share my interests and
my concerns. They seem ready for change and as I said, it's very
encouraging. As I work my way around Saanich South I will be talking to many
people, and I hope I get to talk to you!

Friday, February 20, 2009


Taking a step into the ring of Provincial politics is exciting and meaningful for me. Last August I made the decision to be a part of the May 12th race to the Legislature and I haven't looked back. Almost every day now I am asked why I am doing this, or why I think I am ready.

This is not a question that has a simple answer. There are so many reasons to enter into public service and I will get into the details over the next week. Today I can tell you that I have been on this journey my whole life. Whether it started in grade 7 when I won the Marie Mercier Leadership Award, or in Grade 11, when I became Prime Minister of my school.

Now I am 40 years old, and there have been so many important days in my life when I stood up and said things need to be different, and I want to put in the time to make the change.

This happens to be the time that everything I believe in deep inside, is in the spotlight. This is a time when, more than ever, I feel the opportunity to make a difference is now.
So I am working as hard as possible to have the chance to make a difference at the Provincial level. I won't stop until the polls close the evening of May 12th, and I would love your help along the way.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Connect the dots....................

The funding that we could be using to begin developing a much-needed LRT system in this region keeps passing us by. At what point will our provincial decision makers start connecting the dots when it comes to funding a strong economy and sustainability?

We watched a ton of money come and go last summer in the form of individual $100 carbon cheques. This money, distributed by the government, was to offset the carbon tax that gasoline consumers started paying in July 08. The government distributed $440 million dollars across British Columbia. If we had pooled our cheques for this region we would have had about $33- million to begin bringing LRT to Greater Victoria. Using carbon tax funding to invest in a regional transportation solution would have been smart and progressive. This government is not there.

A regional LRT system is where we need to go to meet our carbon-reduction targets. Waiting for the guaranteed ridership levels to increase, waiting for pollution to get bad enough, or waiting for the moment when it takes 2 hours to get from the Westshore into Victoria due to traffic snarls, is inappropriate. We only need to look at Portland, Oregon , to know it’s a mistake to wait.

Money invested in LRT in this region will create jobs and stimulate our economy while moving in a direction that we are talking about going. We need government to stop using the word sustainability if they are not prepared to fast track sustainable projects. I don't want my tax money being used to fund single occupancy vehicle projects, such as massive traffic interchanges, I want my tax money solving problems.

Lana Popham

Saanich South

Monday, February 2, 2009

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

This was a wonderful day in Victoria BC. I was so happy to be participating in all of the celebrations. The colors and the costumes were a treat. Gung Hay Fat Choi!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fired Up!

12/15/08 Time to Get Fired Up:
Farmlands Conference Brings Farmers Together


On November 27th, concerned farmers and citizens of lower Vancouver Island gathered in Sidney at the Farmlands Conference to talk about how to move forward on issues facing our farmlands, farmers, and local food supply. Vineyard owners, prominent chefs, future farmers, and politicians filled up the rooms where a range of discussion sessions were adeptly hosted by moderators such as Metchosin farmer and Small Farms editor, Tom Henry, and Chef David Mincey of Camille’s. “There are a lot of movements afoot,” observed attendee Carol Herriot (of Seeds of Victoria), “and today we are connecting the dots.”

Leading speakers like the fervent Lana Popham of Barking Dog Vineyard, visionary David Chambers of Madrona Farm, and John Buchanan of Parry Bay Farm who brings thirty years of farming experience to the table, led sessions on themes such as ‘land leasing’ and ‘taking action on farmland issues.’ In true democratic style, the attendees spoke just as much as the panelists and the sessions carried on like townhouse meetings.

“The idea is to improve the lot of the farmer,” began David Mincey, opening the floor for discussion at the session on ‘taking action on farmland issues.’ Many suggestions were offered; “We need to shatter the myth that farmland needs to be owned by the farmer,” David Chambers offered and explained his farm’s position of entering into an agreement with a land trust to secure their farmland in perpetuity as a solution to astronomical land prices in BC. Chef Ken Hueston of Smoken Bones Cookshack stressed the opportunity for chefs to act as leaders of a new food movement that honours local land by bringing in farm fresh produce from as near as possible and teaching the public its merit through deliciousness. A reoccurring theme was getting kids to care about farming and to see it as a viable and valuable lifestyle in our highly modernized world. Popham expressed her wish to see an agricultural component in the school system and Mincey (half) joked that teens should not be able to graduate high school without a month’s work on the farm. Attendee Randy Pearson (of Islands Organic Producers Association), pointed out the reason for the near-extinction of new farmers: “Until it’s viable to send your kids to university on a farm income, people aren’t going to pick up the hoe.”

Though high prices, Agricultural Land Reserve red tape, and a dwindling crop of fresh farmers are serious obstacles, the prevailing energy was one of vim and action. The small farmers, vintners, chefs who source locally, seed-savers, and supportive citizens who gathered together in Sidney carried with them an appreciation for resources (whether they be water, land, or enthusiasm), a willingness to listen, and ideas that are nothing short of visionary. As Popham said, “All of this can either shut you down or fire you up…and I’m fired up.” The resounding applause and cheers were a strong indication that her words connected with many.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Celebrating at the Topaz Temple with MLA Rob Fleming and newly elected Mayor of Victoria Dean Fortin.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Diwali 2008 - Festival of Lights

The beautiful colours of Diwali.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Would you like to join my LANA YES! campaign team? I am looking for volunteers and would be very excited to hear from you! As you know, the provincial election is not until the with every campaign you can never start too early. Email or call if you want to help.

My campaign will be full of energy and creativity!

Let's face it, if you are NDP you already have the cool factor. So let's show the rest of Saanich South what we are made of!

Lana Popham

Would You Like To Help With My Nomination?

I am very excited about this opportunity, and I am working hard to make it a reality, but I can’t do this without your help.

I need your support to win the nomination

What does this mean? It means that I need 200 people to join the BC NDP in Saanich South and come out to vote for me in approx. 3 months at a nomination meeting. The membership form is attached and it costs $10 to become a member.
If you would like another membership form please go online to BC NDP and you will be able to download one.

If you are not sure if you live in Saanich South you can check the map included or go online at

You cannot vote for me at the nomination meeting unless you have been a member of the NDP for 90 days, so timing is everything! I will need to have all membership forms sent to Vancouver by October 15th, 2008.

I can collect membership forms at any time. Please call me at 250-507-4222 or email

To learn a little bit more about what I have been doing please check out my website at

Thanks so much!

Press Release.....


September 8, 2009


Saanich resident Lana Popham announced today that she is seeking the nomination for the BC New Democratic Party in Saanich South.

David Cubberley, the current MLA, announced this summer that he will not seek re-election.

Popham is well known in the community as an organic vineyard owner, environmental activist and small business person. She serves on Saanich’s Planning, Transportation and Economic Development Committee, the Peninsula Agricultural Commission, the Investment Agriculture Foundation , and the Islands Organic Producers Association.

Recently she successfully launched a campaign - Think Outside The Bag - to reduce the use of throwaway plastic grocery bags.

This spring Popham received a CFAX Community award for her environmental advocacy, placing as a runner-up for the annual top Community Leader prize. Popham is involved in many other issues including protection of agricultural land, urban and rural food security, sustainable transportation and affordable housing.

“The Campbell government is out of touch with the needs of our communities. How can we arrive at sustainable solutions for our province if we have no say in the discussion?” said Popham. "Saanich has had an effective voice in the legislature since 2005. I think I have the knowledge and drive to build on that record in Spring 2009.”

Popham counts Cubberley as a mentor and supporter. “I'm excited someone of Lana's caliber wants to enter provincial politics and will work hard to get her elected,” said Cubberley. "Her activism shows how much she values the quality of life in Saanich and demonstrates how our region can grow more sustainability."

Lana, 39 years old, is married to Jon, an Oak Bay firefighter and they have a 10-year-old son, Kye.

The provincial election is on May 12, 2009. No date has been set yet for the Saanich South nomination meeting.

For more info, please contact Lana at 250 507 4222.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Popham Seeks NDP Nomination.

Vintner drops council bid, seeks NDP nomination
Times Colonist

Shifts in the political landscape have prompted vineyard owner Lana Popham to abandon the upcoming municipal election and take a shot at provincial office.

Popham said yesterday she has withdrawn from running for Saanich council to seek the New Democrat nomination in Saanich South for the B.C. election next year.

That nomination is up for grabs now that the sitting New Democrat MLA David Cubberly has announced he will be stepping down after one term. Party rules adopted in 2007 dictate Cubberly's replacement must be a woman candidate. In any riding held by the NDP, if the current MLA decides not to run, a woman must be nominated. The aim is to ensure women run where there is a real chance of winning, in a plan to push female and minority candidates into more ridings.

Popham said she decided to seek the provincial nomination because she had worked with Cubberly on issues of agriculture, food security and recycling. "I would like to carry on with that work."

The 39-year-old operator of the organic Barking Dog Vineyard said she also sees lots of room for MLAs interested in food production.

Popham pointed out the house is losing not only Cubberly, but also stepping down is Nelson MLA Corky Evans, who always paid attention to farm issues.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008

A Community Success!

Capital Regional District pushing cloth shopping bags

Next time you head to the grocery store bring a cloth bag. That's the message the Capital Regional District is packaging in an effort to reduce the number of plastic bags used around Victoria. Handing out almost 1,000 cloth CRD bags at its recent Hartland landfill open house, the district's environmental services department is following up on its campaign, asking residents to take a pledge to not use plastic shopping bags. In return, you'll receive a free CRD cloth bag in return.

"Plastic bags end up in our landfills, our waterways and our harbours," Susan Brice, CRD Environmental chair and Saanich councillor said in a news release.

A survey of more than 20 local grocery stores helped the CRD determine that about 25 million plastic bags are used every year in Victoria.

"By refusing plastic bags, we can reduce consumption, stop plastics bags from entering our waste stream and practice good environmental stewardship."

Asking residents to stop using plastic bags is a step in the right direction, said Saanich resident Lana Popham. A New Democratic Party MLA hopeful, Popham has been the driving force behind a campaign to have plastic bags banned in the region.

"I'm really glad the CRD takes this seriously," Popham said. "It just drives home the message again that the plastic bag is a wasteful product and the more we keep the issue current the closer we are to solving the problem."

To take the pledge to refuse to use plastic bags and receive a CRD cloth bag, go to:

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dave Barrett helps celebrate the ALR"s 35th Birthday

I attended an Agricultural Land Reserve 35th birthday celebration a couple weeks ago. It was amazing to hear from the people, like Dave Barrett, who had the foresight back then to put a safety net in place for viable agricultural land.
These days there is a lot of pressure to remove land from this bank. It makes the headlines almost every day.
I hear people say that the ALR was put in place to protect farmland but the ALR does not protect the farmer. This is probably true. But, without the vision of the ALR, we would be in a completely different situation these days. We would be dealing with development smack dab in the middle of prime growing areas instead of chipping away at the borders. We have a place holder with the ALR.
35 years ago we protected the land and now maybe we have the understanding that we also need to protect the farmer. Food security is beginning to become a common term. Especially as elections draw near. People are making a connection between what we eat and where it comes from. Maybe we needed to wait until now to fully understand the role of the farmer, and to realize what was needed to protect this important and vital profession in our culture.
I think this is an amazing time for agriculture. If we can enable the appropriate political strength, we have a chance to secure a safe, local, food system.
The next 12 months could bring us 3 elections. Municipal, Provincial, and Federal. The solutions to a successful agricultural system will come from all three levels of government. Locally we need to pressure our leaders to not just talk about food security but to change the way we support our local food systems.
When you are deciding who to vote for in your municipality, make our food system a priority. Ask the politicians what food security means to them. Make them define it for you, demand a commitment, and hold them to it. We can't eat political rhetoric.....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cycling! Love it!

This was the first year I participated in Bike To Work Week Victoria. I was a bit hesitant because I live in rural Saanich and the ride into town takes about 50 minutes. I had been a cyclist in Vancouver in the early 90's and enjoyed it back then but hadn't made it a part of my life since moving to Victoria. Bike To Work Week gave me the push I needed to reconnect with how great cycling really is. I have been using an older mountain bike and this has worked for me very well because I have been sticking to the trails...out of fear of traffic. I needed to get my confidence and skill level up and this has happened over a 3 month period. This month I have graduated to a cyclecross bike and have started to find my way along main roads and highways. This has been an eyeopener to what is needed as far as infrastructure goes. I have to say that the trail system is awesome but lacks signage. There have been many occasions where I am unsure which diection to take after exiting certain trails. I have also found that bike lanes working along side vehicle traffic are essential. Nothing is worse than a bike lane ending and throwing you out into fast moving traffic. Challenging for the cyclist and challenging for the vehicle operators. Many transitions I make in these cases feels like an accident waiting to happen. So how do I feel about spending money on non-fuel powered transportation infrastructure? This includes walking and biking......I say we need to spend the money to make it work. It is imperative to our sustainable vision and it makes sense.
I am grateful to Bike To Work gave me a push I needed to rediscover cycling for commuting.....I think I am addicted!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Photos From Events....

Madrona Farm TLC Fundraiser - Farmers Natalie and David Chambers and me!

Canada Day at the Gorge Community Association Celebration
From Left to Right
Dean Murdock,Vicki Sanders,David Cubberley,Judy Brownoff,
Vic Derman,Lana Popham and Rob Fleming

Dean Murdock, Lana Popham, Barbara Meek and David Cubberley

Saanich Strawberry Festival 2008
Lana Popham and Denise Savoie

Lana Popham, Vic Derman, Judy Brownoff

2008 Saanich Civic League Launch
Rob Fleming and Lana Popham

117 Days To Go!

Time is marching on! 117 days until election day. I have been working hard for 3 years to prepare for November 15th, 2008. It has seemed so far away for so long but is right there. My new yard signs have arrived and will be ready to go for October. If you are interested in having a sign on you lawn please contact me and I will have one delivered. I am currently designing my brochure and getting it ready to send to the printer. There is so much left to do but it is all exciting.

There are issues that I want to discuss coming up to November. The are things I feel strongly about and will begin to cover them on this blog. I appreciate any feedback, good or bad, and will respond to all comments. These comments will be available for the public eye as I am a strong advocate for transparency. You may not agree with everything I write but you will know where I am coming from. Please feel free to ask me any questions as well.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Vineyard owner adds name to slate for Saanich council election

Times Colonist

Vineyard owner Lana Popham is running for Saanich council in the November municipal election.

Popham, 39, owns the organic Barking Dog Vineyard on Old West Saanich Road and has been involved with numerous community issues and events. The most recent is her pitch to ban plastic bags in the capital region by end of 2008.

She received a CFAX community award for her efforts.

Popham is involved with several agricultural groups, including the Peninsula Agricultural Commission, the Island Organic Producers Association and even the compost committee at Brentwood Elementary School.

She's also a member of Saanich's planning, transportation and economic development committee.

Saanich is at a "critical time" in its growth, and needs progressive choices about land use, transportation and sustainability, she says.

More and improved green transportation choices are needed to reduce carbon emissions, says Popham. She wants to lobby for new investment in rapid transit, more bike lanes and trails, saying people won't leave their cars at home without good transit service.

Popham is married to Jon, an Oak Bay firefighter. They have a nine-year-old son.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008

Community Matters - CHANNEL 11

Victoria Community Television
Presents ...

Community Matters ...

If you're interested in a progressive take on some important local issues, please watch this panel discussion that includes View Royal mayor Graham Hill, Saanich councillor Vic Derman and Lana Popham of Saanich .. Moderated by Judith Cullington, they discuss issues like climate change, sewage treatment, and our local food supply and put forward ideas and solutions that you may like. This is definitely the most progressive panel group on television, so don't miss it ...

On Victoria Community TV: Channel 11
Saturday, June 7 at 11:00 AM
Sunday, June 8 at 9:00 PM

also on Channel 4 in Duncan and Channel 11 on Saltspring Island

With thanks to VanCity for funding ...
Presented by ICTV .. Independent Community Television Victoria. ICTV is a non-profit society dedicated to community television. Filmed and produced by Lazarus Productions of Victoria.
Special thanks to the staff at Shaw Cable.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

CFAX reports on the CRD decision.....


May 28, 2008
















Why is it all about recycling? The cost would be minimal if we reduced the problem...

High costs ground plan to recycle grocery bags

Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist

Published: Thursday, May 29, 2008

Plastic bags won't be picked up in Greater Victoria blue boxes any time in the near future.

While collecting the bags in blue boxes is possible, it is expensive and there are potential problems, assistant solid waste manager John Craveiro told the Capital Regional District environment committee yesterday.

Some of the challenges include the bags blowing around neighbourhoods prior to collection and contamination of bags with paper receipts and other contaminants, he said.

CRD staff estimate the net cost of collecting and processing 500 tonnes of bags would be $530,900 a year, while the current total annual net cost of collecting all materials is about $1.3 million.

The committee agreed that including the bags in the blue box program at this point would be too expensive. Instead it is recommending the CRD continue to lobby the province to expand its product stewardship program to include the bags and other soft plastics, increase education campaigns on alternatives to plastic bags and advertising drop-off locations.

There are 55 locations in the CRD, many of them grocery stores, that accept the bags for recycling. The committee agreed plastic bags should be considered for the blue box program when the next contract is issued in 2012.

Saltspring Island director Gary Holman said he was "stunned" by the additional costs to collect the bags.

Craveiro replied that the estimated additional costs come largely from contractors currently picking up recyclables.

"Right now they have maximized the payloads for their trucks. [Plastic bags] are not very much weight but [add] bulkiness. So you're looking about 2 1/2 trucks you'd have to add to their existing truck fleet in order to accommodate this," he said.

Plastic bags have not been considered a huge problem at the Hartland landfill. They make up less than one per cent of the waste there and Canadian litter audits show that plastic bags account for less than 0.5 per cent of household litter. As well, studies show the majority of plastic bags are reused at least once.

Several committee members objected to the wording in the report, which suggested the following the recommendation was a "status quo" option.

"It [the wording 'status quo'] has a sense of inertia and no change," said committee chairwoman Susan Brice, who added the CRD is doing everything from lobbying the province to conducting public education to help foster a reduction in the use of plastic bags.

Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff said it's the CRD's mandate to regulate and educate.

"I definitely think the education program could be bumped up," she said, adding that more large retailers and stores in shopping centres should get involved in providing alternatives to plastic bags.

"We really do have to wrap it up. It's an environmental issue," she said.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008

Recycling? How about reduction!

CRD: Recycling plastic bags in blue boxes too pricey

Bill Cleverley
Times Colonist

It would cost too much -- more than $530,000 a year -- to recycle plastic grocery bags as part of the blue box program, say Capital Regional District staff.

The recommendation to the CRD's environment committee not to collect the bags in blue boxes is disappointing to Saanich resident Lana Popham who has been campaigning for months to have the bags banned.

"I think it's decision-making at a snail's pace," Popham said.

"I feel that I've worked really hard to increase the awareness about the negative impacts of plastic grocery bags in our environment and the key thing is we should be willing to move beyond reliance on them and not enable an ongoing dependence."

Popham sees the problem as two-fold. The first is their production wastes oil and the second is that they escape into the environment, causing harm to a variety of species.

But CRD staff are recommending the status quo.

Instead of collecting the bags in blue boxes, the region should continue to lobby the province to expand programs to have stores collect the bags, the report says.

While collecting the bags in blue boxes is doable, it is expensive and there are challenges, "such as the bags blowing around neighbourhoods prior to collection, educating residents in proper preparation, contamination of bags with paper receipts and other contaminants," the report says.

Staff estimate the net cost of collecting and processing 500 tonnes of bags is $530,900 a year while the current total annual net cost of collecting all materials is about $1.3 million.

The report notes 55 locations in the CRD, many of them grocery stores, accept the bags for recycling. It suggests that if the collection program isn't expanded, plastic bags should be considered for the blue box program when the next contract is issued in 2012.

Popham doesn't think costs have to be as high as staff suggest. There's no need for hard tops on blue boxes to prevent plastic bags from blowing around prior to collection.

"We do paper in a heavy-duty plastic bag to stop them from blowing around. I don't understand why we don't have the same approach for plastic bags," she said.

Plastic bags have not been considered a huge problem at the Hartland landfill. They make up less than one per cent of the waste there and Canadian litter audits show that plastic bags account for less than 0.5 per cent of household litter. As well, the majority of plastic bags are reused at least once.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Panama Flats

Should the “right to farm” outweigh the obligation to farm responsibly?

In Saanich, farming is in the headlines again. The new owners of Panama Flats are in the middle of a controversial fight that involves farming, fill dumping, and ecological risk. Emotions are running high between community members, the Municipality of Saanich and the potential farmers/developers.

How do we as residents make heads or tails out of the information and misinformation coming our way? The best way to do that is to be well informed about what we potentially have to lose.

The new “farm plan” for Panama Flats includes building a berm that – if allowed – will ring the edge of the entire property. The ‘plan’ is to isolate the flats entirely from winter flooding in order to utilize the land for perennial crops, which in my opinion, are unsuited to land that floods every year.

Panama Flats is made up of a soil class called “organic soil”. We are most familiar with them being referred to as “peat soils”. This is in contrast to the mineral soils that are most common on our Island. Our peat lands are very precious and unique. When we look at their history we can understand why. These sensitive and unique soils started their formation just after the glaciers left. Lakes were formed in this area both by glacier melt water and by fingers of the ocean being land locked. . The levels of peat were gradually formed by successions of vegetation continually encroaching on these lakes and being submerged and deprived of oxygen. This is a very slow process and worldwide only constitutes 3% of our landmass.

To responsibly farm in peat soils takes specific management practices. There is a fine balance between destroying the peat system and working responsibly within it. Water plays a key role in this management.

If we look at Panama Flats, we know that over the winter months it lies submerged in water. This water level allows the peat to remain saturated and the structure of the peat bog to remain at a certain level. Previous farming practices of Panama Flats worked within the seasonal patterns of the wet and dry seasons. The Flats were left to submerge during the cold, wet, non-growing season. This allowed a winter habitat for wildlife and migrating birds.

Once the spring came and brought drier conditions, the water was pumped, the wildlife moved on, and suitable crops were planted. Potatoes are a crop that has been traditionally planted in this space. Potatoes are very appropriate for such an agricultural situation. We have lost our potato growing capabilities in Central Saanich for decades due to the threat of the Golden Nematode. In a time when we are thinking of food security, we should not take prime starch growing areas out of production. Potatoes are a crop that stores well over the winter and I think that fits into our long range agricultural planning.

Bringing fill onto an area such as Panama Flats is ecologically and agriculturally irresponsible. The proposed berm would permanently cover the edges of the valued peat soil and threaten its water holding capabilities. The results of this action could cause the peat bog to settle which is of great concern. The extent of the settling would vary but brings with it a new set of worries. There could be an increase in flooding, a need to continually deepen drainage ditches, and the potential to loose the peat layer as it will dry and the mineral soils would begin to make there way up into this unique horizon. Although the traditional farming method of tilling and plowing can cause have some settling results, the winter rejuvenation due to water retention allows for significant peat conservation.

There are many reasons to farm responsibly. There are many reasons to choose different crops for different areas. Blueberries may do well in this location once the topography is drastically changed, but what if they don’t, and what are the impacts of permanently changing the soil and its hydrology? We are left with a scar on a piece of farmland that would be irreparable. The proposal to plant blueberries on Panama Flats may be great on paper…but if you talk to people who have been farming here for years, agrologists who have our soils in their best interest, and community members who value the diversity that this land brings, we will find that the right to farm does not trump the obligation to farm responsibly.

Panama Flats is a unique peat marsh that currently supports a balance between nature’s use of the land and the growing of food-crops. These activities have coexisted in harmony since farmers first arrived here. Undertaking forms of farming that will block nature’s use and fundamentally change the nature of the soil is not a responsible use of provincial ‘right to farm’ legislation.

Lana Popham
Organic Farmer/ Saanich Resident

Friday, May 9, 2008

CFAX Community Awards. Thanks so much CFAX!

Photo courtesy of my friend Chris Smith from SNAP Victoria. Thanks Chris!

Times Colonist - may 3rd, 2008
Community Leader - Runner Up
"Lana Popham is best known for her work banning plastic shopping bags, a campaign called "Think Outside The Bag" as well as her most recent initiative "Go Left For Litter", an attempt to clean up neighbourhoods. She has proven that one person - someone with a level of consciousness around greening our region - can make a significant difference to our community."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A gift from rural Saanich......

Get cracking on egg production, farmers say
By Erin Cardone - Saanich News - April 18, 2008

Lana Popham and Dean Rebneris say eggs are a driving force in the local eggonomy – economy, that is. Egg farmers are an important part of the local food supply in and around Greater Victoria.
Erin Cardone/News staff

Dean Rebneris and Lana Popham climbed the stairs to Saanich municipal hall Tuesday with 120 eggs in tow.

“We’ll hand them out to (Mayor) Frank Leonard and anyone else we see who might need them,” Popham said.

The 10 dozen egg cartons were decorated with a label intended to promote egg farming locally and raise awareness of just how many eggs are laid in rural Saanich and distributed for sale around neighbouring municipalities.

“There’s nothing like farm fresh eggs, ones when you know the farmer,” said Rebneris, who keeps 99 laying chickens. “I feed these eggs to my kids.”

Their simple action Tuesday was a push for awareness of eggonomics, Popham said. “We’re just trying to make a point that it adds to the economy, so we were presenting the eggs to the mayor (and others) as a gift from rural Saanich. It’s just to say we’re here and we count.”

As most eggs for sale in Greater Victoria, especially in grocery stores, are imported from the United States or shipped from the Lower Mainland, Popham and Rebneris are hoping to see a boost in locally grown eggs and the number of people who buy locally.

Although they didn’t have hard figures for Victoria or Vancouver Island, the B.C. Egg Producers Marketing Board says eggs are big business for the province. The industry is worth more than $95 million annually, and more than 61-million dozens of eggs are graded each year.

The Island has 18 registered egg producers, four of whom are in the Victoria area, and dozens more unregistered. For anyone wanting to try their hand at becoming an egg producer, Rebneris suggests attending the May 10 Prospect Lake flea market to pick up some laying hens.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Come join us if you can!

Concerned about our local food supply?

Are we committed to farming and food production in BC or not?

An evening with Corky Evans, MLA for Nelson Creston and David Cubberley, MLA for Saanich South

Wednesday April 16th
Cordova Bay Elementary School Gym
5238 Cordova Bay Road, Victoria, B.C.
7:00pm – 8:30pm

Opposition Critic for Agriculture, Corky Evans is touring rural B.C. to discuss the current state of agriculture in our province and to hear what farmers and other interested people have to say about the importance of supporting farmers, farmland and local food supply. Please join us for an entertaining discussion about a serious issue.

For more information contact:

Lana Popham at 652-4110 or

Laura Neil at 952-4418 or

Monday, March 3, 2008

Another try........

CRD considers collecting plastic bags in recycling boxes
Recycling the ubiquitous items deemed a better alternative to outright ban

Bill Cleverley
Times Colonist

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Capital Regional District will investigate collecting plastic grocery bags through the blue box recycling program.

The region doesn't have the authority to ban the bags outright, and after discussing the issue for more than an hour yesterday, many members of the CRD's environment committee aren't convinced a ban would be a good idea.

Because the bags are so easily picked up by the wind, causing a litter problem, collecting the bags in the blue boxes has been viewed by CRD staff as problematic.

That could be a non-issue in about four years as discussions are underway with contractors and municipalities about moving to a single, large blue tote with a lid for collection of recyclables by 2012, Alan Summers, CRD manager of solid waste, told the committee. That idea could be fast-tracked and in the meantime staff have been instructed to open discussions with contractors about collecting the bags in the blue boxes.

The committee also recommended stepping up public education campaigns that emphasize things like returning bags to grocery stores.

Plastic bags make up less than one per cent of the waste at Hartland Landfill and Canadian litter audits show that plastic bags account for less than 0.5 per cent of household litter. As well, the majority of plastic bags are reused at least once.

But Saanich resident Lana Popham, who has been campaigning for months to have plastic grocery bags banned, told the committee that's not the point.

"I cannot emphasize more that if all the plastic grocery bags were to end up in the landfill, half our problem would be gone. Or, if they all ended up in our recycling systems, we would then be able to more easily focus our concerns. But the main problem is they don't all end up in those two places," she said.

Popham sees the problem as two-fold. The first is their production wastes oil and the second is that they escape into the environment, causing harm to a variety of species.

The committee also heard from Justin Sherwood, of the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, and Bruce Young, of the Canadian Industry Association, who both argued against a ban.

Young said not only are bans difficult to enforce, jurisdictions that have tried them have found they result in even more plastic ending up in landfills. With no grocery bags, people buy and use heavier kitchen catchers and other plastic bags for their trash.

Sherwood urged a "smart use" approach with a focus on education.

Committee chairwoman Susan Brice said society has already come a long way in terms of environmental awareness about plastic bags as evidenced by the number of people carrying reusable totes.

Victoria Coun. Dean Fortin said the plastic grocery bag is one of the "most visible symbols of environmental waste" and it would almost be worth imposing the ban for symbolic reasons even if it can't be enforced.

But Metchosin Mayor John Ranns disagreed.

"We are educating ourselves. We are changing. We are seeing changes I never thought we would in terms of social responsibility. We don't have to make a law for everything, and banning things as a symbolic gesture I really have a problem with. It's not reasoned lawmaking. It's lawmaking through ideology," Ranns said.

Victoria Coun. Geoff Young said that before any consideration is given to imposing a ban, staff should report on what the implications would be.

"Do people adjust? Does everyone start walking around with a string bag? Or, in fact does plastic consumption go up and stay up?" he asked.

"I've really had enough of political environmentalism. I think we should have a little bit of knowledge-based environmentalism, and that's what we should be doing first."
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yaaaaa for Jack Knox!

We're neck-deep in plastic. Is it time to bag the bag?

Jack Knox
Times Colonist

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Most notable new trend at this year's TC book sale? The arrival of the reusable shopping bag.

Every second person was packing one of the suddenly ubiquitous fabric carrier bags, the same ones that you always forget to throw back in the trunk after unloading the groceries.

The sight would have warmed Lana Popham's heart. The Saanich farmer -- she has Barking Dog Vineyard -- has been doggedly campaigning to eradicate plastic shopping bags from the local landscape.

In fact, she'll be back in front of the Capital Regional District's environment committee tomorrow, arguing her case. She would like to see plastic shopping bags banned altogether, but failing that, figures the CRD could drive them out of existence with a 50-cent-a-bag charge. "That alone would cause a voluntary ban."

Alas for Lana, the CRD says her idea is a non-starter, that the regional district doesn't have the authority to ban or tax bags. All it can really do is ban them from the landfill, but a staff report doesn't recommend that, either. Measured by weight, plastic bags make up less than one per cent of the rubbish in the Hartland dump.

Popham doesn't dispute that. "We all know it's not a landfill issue," she says. "If the bags all got to the landfill, that would be fine." What ticks her off are all the bags that end up in fields, or clogging culverts, or washing around the ocean. Besides, she says, oil is too precious and finite a resource to waste on plastic bags, which are made from petroleum. It has been estimated that more than 500 billion of them are used each year.

Popham's arguments echo those being heard worldwide. China has banned ultra-thin plastic bags; by some calculations, that will save 37 million barrels of crude each year. Ireland has effectively taxed bags out of existence. Last April, the Manitoba town of Leaf Rapids became the first Canadian town to ban them. In November, Langford's Real Canadian Superstore, which used to hand out 950,000 bags a year, became the first major retailer in B.C. to do away with them.

In January, CRD board member Vic Derman, a green-leaning Saanich councillor, asked regional district staff to report on ways to curb the excessive use of plastic bags. Staff have now responded with recommendations to increase education about recycling and alternatives to plastics, to ask that bags be included in provincial recycling regulations, and to look at a model bylaw similar to one governing pesticide use.

Those recommendations will be heard by the environment committee tomorrow. So will the arguments of Popham and, from another perspective, a representative of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association.

The industry argues that bans and taxes don't work, that they actually lead to an increase in the use of plastics and paper. "The prime example is Ireland's bag tax, which led to a 21 per cent increase in the amount of plastic consumed in Ireland as people substituted heavier plastic kitchen catchers which could be purchased off the shelf tax-free even though the number of bags distributed at checkout declined 90 per cent," stated a letter to the environment committee from Cindy Cirko, vice-president of the plastics association.

The plastics association proposes forming a partnership with the CRD and retailers to cut excessive use -- persuading big-box stores and others to launch in-store recycling programs, that sort of thing.

Popham isn't swayed by the association's arguments against bans and taxes: "It's their livelihood."

All of which still leaves the question of what you are supposed to do with your plastic bags right now. You can't put them in your blue box. (The CRD looked at adding them to the blue box program in 2005, when it was expanded to include other plastics and pizza boxes, but rejected the idea; they tend to blow around the street and, with little commercial value and a low tolerance for contamination, are unattractive to recyclers.) Most grocers have in-store recycling bins for plastic bags. Most now sell their own carrier bags, too -- an option, as the book sale showed, that more and more people are starting to take.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008


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