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

Agassiz Community Health Centre welcomes its newest doctor

Nikki Cohen is one of three doctors practicing at the local health clinic

No home for Agassiz Community Garden on school district land

The garden is still homeless after SD78 said no to the society using the McCaffrey School property

Life rings, signs to improve safety on Harrison waterfront

Harrison council approved $125,000 in aquatic safety projects for the beach

PHOTOS: Harrison students take on the Bunny Run

Harrison Hot Springs Elementary students dressed up for the Easter event

No more mobile vendors on Harrison beach

The approval of an updated business licence bylaw means Nolan Irwin is without a cart

VIDEO: Agassiz, Harrison celebrate National Pet Day

From cats and dogs to lizards and chickens, residents showed off the animals that enrich their lives

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

VIDEO: Fan support almost deafening as Giants take Game 2 in finals

Vancouver G-Men cap comeback with thrilling third period to beat Spokane 4-2 on home ice in Langley

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

Most Read