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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Land utilization in the lowland area of Delta Municipality Taylor, Gordon deRupe

Abstract

The lowland area of Delta Municipality in Southwestern British Columbia comprising some 50 square miles with a population of 4,000 is one of the main suppliers of food to the Vancouver market. Although 10,000 acres classified as peat are unsuited for agricultural purposes, the remaining area has a fertile soil. In addition the area has a mild climate suited to the development of a dairying economy. Settlement of Delta started in 1868 and proceeded rapidly for several years. It was the wealth of the Fraser River fisheries rather than the agricultural productivity of the land that brought early prosperity to Delta and to Ladner, the municipal centre, in particular. After the decline of the fishing industry following the Hell's Gate disaster in 1913, agriculture became the economic mainstay of the district. As a result of poor internal transportation and a lack of fresh water in the western half of the municipality early agricultural practises differed in East Delta and in West Delta. Dairying developed in the east whereas cattle ranching became prominent in the west. In both sections similar field crops were grown. The opening of a road network after 1875 and the installation of a municipal water system in 1910 resulted in dairying gradually becoming the principal industry of Delta. In recent years a diversified agriculture has become the outstanding characteristic of the land use pattern in Delta. The major uses of land are for pasture, hay and oats, with lesser amounts devoted to potatoes, peas, and a variety of other crops. Most of the farm revenue comes from the sale of fluid milk to the Greater Vancouver market. There is some industrial activity in the area. Prior to 1913 salmon canning was important but declined consequent upon the diminishing of the Eraser River salmon runs. Between 1942 and 1944 two peat processing plants commenced operations upon the peat bog. They have become the largest industrial c concerns in Delta. A vegetable canning factory, a grass dehydration plant, and a grist mill are the local industries based upon agriculture. Ladner is the municipal centre and owes its prosperity to the surrounding farming community. Originally Ladner grew in response to the fishing industry. Summer resorts have grown up at Beach Grove and Boundary Bay. Sunbury is a small fishing community along the river and Tswassen is an Indian reservation. Since 1941 an area of 1,100 acres has been used for military purposes. The conclusions arrived at in the thesis were that the area should remain as agricultural land. Danger from flooding and the limited amount of good agricultural land near the city of Vancouver are two factors which should operate against urbanization of the fertile lowlands of the Fraser Valley. In the event that urban development should come a plan to provide the necessary services and to prevent friction with the farming community has been recommended.

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