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Monday, March 10, 2014

Feature: Protecting the Agricultural Land Reserve, Part 2

In a recent proposal, BC Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm argued that the Agricultural Land Commission's (ALC) mandate should be expanded to include economic development priorities such as oil and gas industry and that decision making power over agricultural lands be transferred to the BC Oil and Gas Commission for most of the province.

SourceBC Food Systems Network
What is the Agricultural Land Reserve?

The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), created in the 1970s, is a provincial zone in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use. Farming is encouraged and non-agricultural uses are controlled.

It covers approximately 4.7 million hectares, including private and public lands that may be farmed, forested or vacant land. Some ALR blocks cover thousands of hectares while others are small pockets of only a few hectares. The ALR comprises those lands within BC that have the potential for agricultural production.

What is the problem?

BC's farmland is scarce, making up less than 5% of the provincial land base. In order to preserve our ability to grow food locally as well as food security, it is essential to protect our farm base and support the farmers who grow our food.

Originally established as a way to defend valuable farmland from large-scale development projects, the ALR has recently been eyed for changes. Development pressures are mounting, especially with the high-profit potential of land development, and these pressures risk removing high-quality farmland from the existing land reserve.

So, what can you do?

Efforts to save the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) call on the provincial government to

  • Retain the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) as one zone for the whole province
  • Retain the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) as a province-wide, independent administrative body with judicial powers (as it has now)
  • Conduct a public consultation process with the ALC and those affected by its decisions -- farmers, ranchers, and the citizens of BC -- provided changes beyond those from 2010 are to be considered

Things you can do to help ensure that the ALR remains intact include the following:
  1. Circulate this information to your contacts.
  2. Contact your local government representatives, MLA, the Premier, and Ministers Bennett and Pimm and ask them to leave the ALR and ALC alone.
  3. Copy your MP on your letters and emails.
  4. Like and post to the ALR Watch Facebook page.
  5. Like and post to the Farmland Protection Coalition Facebook page.
  6. Organize a town hall meeting to promote discussion and action about farmland protection: the BCFSN and organizations above can help!
  7. Sign the online petition Premier Christy Clark: Hands off BC’s Agricultural Land Commission at change.org
  8. Get signatures on petitions in your community (each petition can be brought up in the Legislature).
Missed Protecting the Agricultural Land Reserve, Part 2? Read it here.

Want to find out more? Visit one of these sites for more information.

BC Food Systems Network, Protecting the Agricultural Land Reserve

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