I received news on October 30th from Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz that the Centre for Plant Health on the Saanich Peninsula will remain open. Needless to say, I am thrilled (and relieved!) with this decision.
I am grateful to Minister Ritz for listening to our concerns and for re-thinking the earlier decision to move its quarantine and virus testing functions to Summerland, which is the heart of British Columbia’s fruit and wine region. This is a victory for our community, and for all those elsewhere who fought to protect the excellent science done here for 100 years.
Residents from Saanich-Gulf Islands and from across BC signed petitions, asking that the Centre remain open, including the following petition that I presented on October 29, in the House of Commons:
“Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present a petition from constituents in my riding, from Salt Spring Island, Galiano and throughout Saanich. The petition calls upon the Minister of Agriculture with whom I have had several personal conversations on the matter, to reconsider the closing of the plant health centre, which for 100 years has served the interests of science in understanding viruses. Since 1960, it has been the national centre for the quarantine of plant viruses. It is simply not feasible to pursue the current plan to move these facilities to the Okanagan. Therefore, I table this petition, which is calling for the Centre for Plant Health to remain open, on behalf of my constituents.”
The Centre for Plant Health is a crucial site for the quarantine and virus-testing of new plant stock, and has been strategically located across the Salish Sea from the province’s mainland in order to prevent the transfer of viruses or pests to British Columbia’s primary agricultural regions. And while 6 positions are being moved to Agriculture Canada’s facility in Summerland, 23 full time positions are being saved, and the Centre for Plant Health will remain open.
This is a wonderful 100th birthday present to the Centre for Plant Health and proof that a group of determined and engaged citizens can have a real impact. Thank you to all those residents of Saanich-Gulf Islands who took part in this campaign.
Visit my MP website at http://www.elizabethmaymp.ca/get-involved to download and sign other petitions.