Spy in the sky contract on hold after farmers protest | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Spy in the sky contract on hold after farmers protest

A file photo of a tractor working on agricultural land. Plans for a pilot project to monitor agricultural land for new buildings, parking lots and other man made changes were put on hold recently by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
November 19, 2019 - 8:30 PM

A decision by the Ministry of Agriculture to use radar satellite-based technology to monitor and regulate activities on agricultural land didn’t apparently didn't sit well with the province's farmers.

The Agricultural Land Commission recently issued a notice of intent to contract the service to MDA Systems Ltd., only to withdraw the notice yesterday after mounting opposition to the pilot project, a joint effort between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Land Commission.

“I’ve asked the ministry to pull back a recent Notice of Intent about using satellite imaging to complement the work of the Agricultural Land Commission. There is more work to be done before moving forward on such a project including hearing from people with concerns,” Agricultural Minister Lana Popham said in a statement issued yesterday, Nov. 18.

The $70,000 contract involved monitoring three areas of the southern part of the province between November 2019 and February 2020 on a repeating basis. The survey would focus on man-made changes within the agricultural land reserve such as new buildings, land-fill and commercial parking within the reserve.

The ministry did not call for vendor proposals largely because of the technical expertise MDA could provide, although it did provide a Nov. 25 deadline for vendors wishing to dispute the decision.

The agricultural areas under scrutiny were also not going to be revealed, as a precaution against landowners who knew they were being monitored possibly behaving differently.

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