ALC undergoes changes

Chairperson Frank Leonard spoke to the Regional District of North Okanagan board

The Agricultural Land Commission is going through a transition.

Frank Leonard, who was appointed chairperson in May, told the Regional District of North Okanagan board Wednesday that management is evolving within the Crown agency.

“We need to be more responsive and effective in dealing with applications,” he said.

“There’s a lot of stories of applications taking 12 to 24 months. Part of the management change is to move to best practises of about three months. The (ALC) panel will have to meet more often because it can’t just fall on staff.”

Leonard, who grew up in Coldstream during the 1960s and is a former Saanich mayor, also hopes to bolster the number of employees on the ALC payroll.

“Twenty employees for the entire province has been a stretch. The organization has been struggling to meet its mandate.”

Compliance and employment officers have gone from two to four, and that could climb to six in the new year.

“We have to be credible if we have regulations,” said Leonard of the need for more enforcement officers.

One contentious issue is whether weddings and other gatherings can occur at facilities within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Leonard says the matter currently rests with the Ministry of Agriculture.

“What they decide to do with agri-tourism will become regulation and we will work within that. Right now, the regulations are vague, especially with weddings,” he said.

“The goal isn’t to shut them down but to have compliance.”