Victoria/Fraser Valley – The Province has released the final report of the independent Advisory Committee for Revitalizing the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).
More than 2,300 British Columbians responded to the committee’s online discussion paper and survey, and the committee also received over 270 written submissions.
Three key issues were identified:
As populations grow and urban land prices increase, the pressure to develop the ALR builds. An updated legislative framework is required to protect it from this pressure and prevent prime ALR parcels being lost to investors and speculators for non-farm use.
The Committee also identified the critical need for the ALC to be ‘at the table’ with the Ministry of Agriculture and other provincial agencies. The ALC must be sought out for their expertise, not just as active members and leaders in ALR revitalization, but as a key agency with the mandate to lead core land protection across the province.
Much of what British Columbians value about the ALR, agriculture, and food security in BC, cannot be met without adequately resourcing the agencies responsible for delivering the BC Government’s policies and mandates. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Land Commission will need increased resources if they are to sufficiently implement the Committee’s recommendations. The Committee urges the Minister and the Province to build a well-resourced program of revitalization that fully recognizes — and supports — the contribution of the agricultural sector to the health of BC’s economy and communities.
Chilliwack City Councilor and Rosedale Farmer Chris Kloot told FVN:
The task at hand required much time and energy as this non partisan committed group sought to achieve a balance that would protect farmland, curb speculation of farmland for other uses then that of farming, and support farmers and ranchers right across this province. Often new policy and direction is brought in as a result of unintended consequences or misuses, and this is no different. I am proud of the role I played and am grateful to (Agriculture) Minister Lana Popham for asking me to join in in these important conversations. At the end of the day, I believe we as a group listened to all the stakeholder feedback as contained in this report, and we look forward to seeing the provincial government continue to support farmers and ranchers to ensure they have all the vital tools they need to thrive and succeed in the important work they do each day for the benefit of all British Columbians.