New plan outlines climate adaptation strategies for Vancouver Island agriculture sector

Farmers on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands will have more support to adapt to climate change, following the development of the Vancouver Island Adaptation Strategies plan.

“Farmers on Vancouver Island have long known that water availability is a critical factor for their production,” says Arzeena Hamir, who participated in the focus groups to develop the plan and is also the owner of Amara Farm.

“Being part of the planning process was helpful for understanding the impact that climate change will have on water resources. This information is vitally important to support our current production systems as well as the future of the agriculture sector in our region.”

Planning for agricultural resilience

The Vancouver Island adaptation strategies planning process, managed by the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative (CAI), began in summer 2019. Through a series of focus groups, the process brought together 90 farmers to work with six Vancouver Island regional districts, as well as provincial and federal agencies, to identify priorities and actions for agricultural adaptation.

The plan outlines 11 strategies for increasing the resilience of the agriculture sector in the region, and the governments of Canada and BC will provide $300,000 in funding through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to support projects that achieve those strategies.

The projects will help farmers respond to four priority impact areas affecting the islands:

  • Warmer and drier summer conditions
  • Changing pests and beneficial insects
  • Increasing weather variability and shifting crop suitability
  • Increasing precipitation and extreme precipitation events

Implementing priority projects

A working group with up to 20 representatives from the agricultural sector and regional and provincial governments will oversee the development of priority projects, and CAI will manage project implementation.

The plan was developed as part of the Regional Adaptation Program. Eight regions in the province are currently being supported through the program. To date, 48 projects have been completed across BC since 2013, with another 14 underway.

Quick facts

  • The total amount of land farmed on Vancouver Island in 2016 was over 50,000 hectares.
  • The region employed over 7,500 people in the agricultural sector, both farm operators and employees, in 2016.
  • Agriculture in the region is very diverse and includes beef cattle, dairy and other livestock (sheep, goats and hogs), poultry and egg production, horticultural crops (vegetables, tree fruit, berries, greenhouse and nursery production) and apiculture.

Contacts

  • Samantha Charlton, Project Manager, Regional Adaptation Program, BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative, 778-676-7657
  • Dave Townsend, Government Communications and Public Engagement, Ministry of Agriculture, 250-356-7098

Read the Ministry of Agriculture news release in the BC Government news room.

The BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative (CAI) develops tools and resources that increase the capacity of agriculture to adapt to climate change. Funding is provided by the governments of Canada and British Columbia under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, and is administered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC and the BC Agricultural Research & Development Corporation.