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Delta farmers say they could lose land due to Tilbury Island LNG plant

You might not think farmers in Delta would be among the people concerned over B.C.’s potential LNG industry.

But an expansion of a plant on Tilbury Island in Delta could result in new power lines that could impact up to 25 different properties.

“In order to facilitate the storage of LNG, they need to increase their power source,” says Ian Paton, Delta City councillor.

There’s been an LNG plant on Tilbury Island for 40 years, owned by FortisBC. The company is currently expanding it, and Wespac Midstream has now gained a license to export 3.5 million tonnes a year.

LNG 101: Where the LNG industry currently is at in British Columbia

All that additional LNG requires more power, which requires an additional transmission line, one that could go over farmland.

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“I don’t have anything against LNG at all. I just don’t think it should be at the expense of one industry for another,” says Nancy Chong, of Howe Chong Farms.

“It’ll come inside of our farm. I’m not sure how many metres it’ll come inside, but it’ll affect just over five acres of our land,” says Martin Hamming of Martian Holsteins

“The biggest part of the problem is there’s stray voltage involved. And for dairy cattle, that is a huge issue. It affects fertility, it affects udder health. If that were to happen, we’d be done farming here.”

Farmers are asking Fortis to choose another route for the line, saying that the corridor along 72nd Street would be a better alternative. Fortis BC isn’t committing to any specifics, but are pledging to work with the community.

“We’ll do our best. We can never make a promise we won’t upset somebody, that’s for sure, that’s the way with everything in life, but we’re going to do our best to come to a solution that can work for everyone,” said Doug Stout with Fortis BC.

The battle to preserve agricultural land in Delta is nothing new. Chong’s father has had his land expropriated three times in his life, losing 84 acres in total.

However, it seems the LNG debate might be creating a breaking point for some.

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“We’ve been inundated for years with railroads, highways and hydro lines, and we’re really tired of it in Delta. It’s time to leave us alone and let the farmers get on with what they do best,” says Patoon.

WATCH: Fortis BC has begun a major expansion of its Delta plant