Cultivating a field in Delta: 10% of ALR land in the Fraser Valley and southern Vancouver Island produces 85% of farm revenues in B.C.

Farmland review creates two zones

Interior, Kootenay and North will allow non-farm uses on farmland, still subject to approval by Agricultural Land Commission

VICTORIA – The Agricultural Land Reserve is being divided into two zones, with regulations to come to allow non-farm home-based businesses outside the southwest regions of high productivity.

The changes affect three of the six regional panels of the Agricultural Land Commission, for the Interior, Kootenay and North regions. Details will be worked out in consultation with industry and placed in regulations, said Bill Bennett, the cabinet minister in charge of the government’s core review of programs.

Non-farm uses will not be considered in the Island, South Coast and Okanagan regions, but “value added” activities such as food processing on farmland are being considered across the province, Bennett said.

Bennett and Steve Thomson, acting agriculture minister, reiterated their assurances that the ALC will continue to operate independently. Commissioners are appointed by cabinet, two or three per region, and decisions can be appealed to the regional chairs who act as an executive.

Delta South independent MLA Vicki Huntington called the Interior zone change “deceitful and a betrayal of the public trust,” and accused the government of removing its obligation to consult with the ALC chair on new panel appointments.

NDP agriculture critic Nicolas Simons was forced by the speaker to withdraw the term “deceitful” from his remarks in the legislature, as he accused Bennett of keeping the changes secret until after last year’s election.

“The fundamental principle is that the reserve was set up for the entire province, not for zones here and zones there,” Simons said.

Bennett said the only change to the Interior zones is the addition of “social and economic” factors in considering permitted uses. He gave the example from his Kootenay constituency of a market garden operator who was refused permission to build  a second home on an unproductive part of the property so the next generation could take over the business.

Rhonda Driediger, chair of the B.C. Agricultural Council and operator of Driediger Farms in Langley, said she is looking forward to the changes that will allow development of new revenue.

“The ALC is old and it hasn’t been updated in a long time,” Driediger said. “On a day-to-day basis it makes it very difficult in farming, especially when you’re looking to be progressive.”

Faye Street, general manager of Kootenay Livestock Association, congratulated the ministers “for having the three Bs in the male anatomy to get this done – starting at the brain, backbone and work your way down.”

Street said young farmers are not entering the industry under the current conditions, and allowing them supplementary income will help maintain the farmers.

 

Just Posted

Bella Coola to benefit from massive investment in coastal internet

A combined investment of $45.4 million will bring new and updated high-speed internet on the coast

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

O’Reilly trial scheduled to start January 15 for Anahim Lake murders

O’Reilly is charged with first-degree murder

School District 49 to re-open Nusatsum Elementary in September 2018

SD49 says increasing enrollment is driving its decision to re-open the school

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

B.C. commuters vote to rename bus service to ‘Jeff’

The company asked and the people of Facebook answered

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Students on the Kelowna campus were unaware of resources and worried about lack of communication

Opinion: Dare to be smarter

Just say no works for more than just substance abuse

‘Sing Me a Song’ about B.C. for a chance at $1,000 contest prize

Entries due by March 30 for lieutenant-governor’s British Columbia-themed competition

Facing reality of death, B.C. man learns real meaning of life

Even while preparing for the end, something inside Keven Drews won’t let him stop living

Most Read