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

Annie Silver voted new director of Sasquatch Country – Area-C

Silver to take over role of director for Hemlock Valley, Harrison Mills, Lake Errock

Leo Facio re-elected as Harrison’s mayor

Facio joined by three new councillors

Who won and who didn’t in the Lower Mainland votes

A look at the region’s mayoral races, starting with Doug McCallum coming back to win in Surrey

VIDEO: Agassiz, Harrison voters on why they went to the polls

Spoiler alert: Most say voting is a civic duty

Fraser Valley mom stuck in Africa over adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran have been waiting four weeks to bring son home

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

More court before Dutch man charged in Amanda Todd case is extradited here

Appeals must be dealt with in Europe, before charges faced in B.C.

Crown says man guilty of B.C. girl’s 1978 murder based on alleged confession

Jury hears details of girl’s 1978 murder while Crown says man should be convicted of girl’s murder based on alleged confession.

BCHL alumni has NHL jersey retired by Anaheim Ducks

Paul Kariya played with the Penticton Vees from 1990-1992

Most Read