Victoria/Fraser Valley – Legislation has been introduced to strengthen the independence of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), so it can better fulfill its mandate of preserving the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), while encouraging farming and ranching within British Columbia.
Bill 15, the agricultural land commission amendment act 2019, continues the Ministry of Agriculture’s efforts to revitalize the ALR, the farmland within B.C. that’s protected for the province’s food security.
“The bill tabled today builds on the work we started over a year ago to better protect farmland and encourage farming and ranching in B.C.,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “We are ensuring the commission has the tools and the governance model required to strengthen its independence and ability to act in the best interest of our farmland within the Agricultural Land Reserve, so that British Columbians are able to access safe, locally grown food for generations to come.”
If passed, the legislation will strengthen ALC governance and independence, and further protect land within the ALR by:
- replacing the current ALC governance model of six panel regions and an executive committee with one commission maintaining regional representation by requiring membership from all six administrative regions;
- providing the chair of the ALC with more flexibility to organize commission members into a decision-making panel on applications when warranted, by topic, technical expertise or by an administrative region;
- adding new decision-making criteria to prioritize the protection and enhancement of the size, integrity and continuity of the land base that the ALC must consider when exercising any power or performing a duty under the ALCA;
- adding more compliance and enforcement capacity and tools, including a new offence for landowners who do not produce records to the ALC when ordered;
- requiring that exclusions be submitted to the ALC only by local governments, First Nations governments or the Province, to encourage these type of applications be done as part of thoughtful land-use planning process.