ALR spells protection for future

Resident wants the Agricultural Land Commission protected

As a B.C. resident I am disappointed to read and hear that the Agricultural Land Reserve and the independent tribunal known as the Agricultural Land Commission are under threat yet again.

One would have thought that after a period of almost 40 years, the benefits of both institutions would outweigh, by far, any attempt to get rid of them on short notice.

This province has roughly 4.7 million hectares of land in the ALR or five per cent of our total land area.

Of this amount, a smaller percentage is prime agricultural land with the balance being grazing, range and forest land.

The ALC website informs us that the NDP government of the day decided on the ALR course of action in part because 6,000 hectares of prime land were being lost each year to non-farm uses.

It is pretty clear to me that sustained opposition to the ALR has come from those who are ideologically opposed to a successful initiative from a socialist government.

If we are ever to enjoy a degree of security of food production in this topographically challenged province it would seem prudent to retain and strengthen both the ALR and the independence of the ALC.

If there are still ALR boundary adjustments to be made to resolve historic anomalies from 1974 to 1976, then let those happen, but no more prime land should be released ever.

The Tolko wood pellet plant in Lavington is a case in point.

A small amount of land may be taken out of production but a much larger parcel would be added to the ALR right in this region. This would result in a net gain to the ALR.

The provincial government and municipalities should continue to work with right to farm legislation and regulations that are already in place.

In fact, the provincial government could do more to help provincial agricultural production such as establishing a land bank system for want of a better term.

This would ensure that prime land remains available to those who want to work in food production in future.

It would also help those individuals and families who do not want or cannot continue to work in this vitally important industry.

So much of our prime land is concentrated in valleys and areas where people also like to build homes and live – the Fraser, Thompson/Okanagan, Creston and those regions like the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

This fact alone tells me that the ALR needs to be protected at all cost.

It should not be left to wither and die from a lack of political will or financial resources.

 

Rod Drennan