EDITORIAL: Agricultural Land Commission needs more funding, not more headaches
B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve is under threat.
The provincial Liberals are proposing Bill 24, which If approved, will split B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve in two. One zone will comprise Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan,where regulations will allegedly stay the same. But in the other zone, comprising 90 per cent of ALR land, covering the Kootenays, Peace River district and elsewhere, it’s about to become much easier to pave over farmland.
The Agricultural Land Reserve was created 40 years ago in order to protect farmland from development, ensuring it stays agricultural for future generations.
While the Agricultural Land Reserve has never been perfect, it has made it harder for short-sighted politicians to pave over farmland. While apologists claim it will be business as usual in the Lower Mainland, weakening the ALR will only give speculators further resolve to buy up agricultural land. They will likely let it sit there unfarmed, claiming farming is not feasible and then hope to get it out of the ALR.
Another issue is food security. B.C. gets much of its food from California. However, that state is suffering a drought and has never had the best water-use policies to begin with (i.e., golf courses in the desert, etc.). For that reason alone, B.C. should be strengthening the ALR and looking at making farming more feasible.
The Agricultural Land Commission needs more funding, not more headaches. Its biggest problem right is a lack of staffing and resources—thus, illegal dumping on farmland goes unchecked while an owner of farmland near Fort St. John thumbed his nose at the ALC and built a rodeo on protected farmland last year.