B.C.’s agricultural land now has even greater protection after legislation strengthening the Agricultural Land Commission became law.
“The changes will enhance the operational capacity of the Agricultural Land Commission in order to expand opportunities for farmers and ranchers,” said B.C. Agriculture Minister Don McRae. “British Columbians value local food, local farmers and local farms, and the Province has supported those values with this action.”
“The new legislation and related initiatives should rectify some of the concerns of the agriculture community, while securing land for food production,” said B.C. Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon. “This will be extremely important to B.C.’s economy as we move towards an era where food will become one of the most sought-after resources any country can provide.”
As a result of the legislation, the Agricultural Land Commission is now able to:
* Increase enforcement within the Agricultural Land Reserve by involving qualified officials from other government agencies and levels of government in enforcement activities.
* Place a five-year moratorium on repeat applications to the ALC and focus resources on core functions like preserving farmland and encouraging farming.
* Begin the transition to a more self-supporting operating model by 2013, and prepare to augment provincial funding by charging certain fees.
* Ensure greater consistency and consideration of the ALC’s core values in regional panel decision-making by increasing the oversight of the chair of the ALC.
The legislation is part of a comprehensive reform package that also includes $1.6 million in additional provincial funding, increased sharing of provincial resources, and a new minister’s bylaw standard restricting building residential homes in the Agricultural Land Reserve.