Minister rejects report of ALR demise

Proposal to dismantle agricultural land commission "so secret I don't even know about it myself," Bill Bennett says

VICTORIA – News reports suggesting the B.C. government is considering dismantling the Agricultural Land Commission are not accurate, the minister in charge of the government’s “core review” says.

A plan outlined in documents leaked to the Globe and Mail this week is “so secret that I don’t even know about it myself,” Energy Minister Bill Bennett said in an interview. “We’re not even considering blowing up the ALC, or bringing it inside government.”

Bennett said agricultural land commissioners will continue to decide on applications to amend the land reserve, established 40 years ago to protect farmland from development.

Bennett refused to comment on the suggestion that the province could be divided into two zones with different processes. But he said he is aware of many cases outside the southwestern part of B.C. where obviously unfarmable land remains locked in the reserve.

Part of the problem has been a lack of funding to the commission, Bennett said. The current budget adds $4 million to the commission’s budget over three years.

“It’s not all their fault, it’s the way the legislation is written, it’s the way their policies have developed,” Bennett said. “All of those things add up to a lot of questionable decisions being made, and certainly not in areas where they have good agricultural land like Richmond and south Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan.”

Bennett also rejected the suggestion that the Oil and Gas Commission would overrule the ALC on decisions in B.C.’s northeast. The OGC already has some authority on land use, and its role in the review is “tiny,” he said.

NDP leader Adrian Dix accused the government of hiding its intentions before the May election.

“After commending two separate reviews that called for the ALC to be strengthened before the election, the Liberals are now conspiring to undermine it,” Dix said.

Metro Vancouver mayors, facing the most pressure to expand development, expressed alarm.

“Certainly it’s disturbing if they’re throwing it out the window,” said Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters.

She said some ALR boundaries need adjustment, but beyond that, her main concerns are that the commission has been underfunded to do its job and that more effort is needed to help support the viability of farming.

“It has problems, but it has its place,” Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said of the ALR. “It protects us from ourselves.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

Haze over Okanagan and Shuswap skies may have drifted from Siberia

Few active wildifres so far this summer in B.C.

Heavy rain in Okanagan results in slowest start to fire season in four years

119 hectares of land burned so far this year, compared to 991 ha in 2019, and 3,835 ha in 2018

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

Province releases report on Columbia River Treaty public feedback

Reservoir levels, fair compensation for impacted communities, among many issues raised

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

Kelowna cyclist breaks national ‘everesting’ record

Jacob Rubuliak, 17, rode up and down Knox Mountain 38-and-a-half times, the equivalent elevation of Mount Everest

New Mount Revelstoke National Park campground opening July 15

It’s the first campground built in a mountain national park in over half a century

Okanagan man arrested after reports of assaults on Kal Lake pier

Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP officers successful after takedown on railway trestle

Man charged in Rideau Hall crash had rifle, shotguns, high-capacity magazine: RCMP

Hurren is accused of threatening to cause death or bodily harm to the prime minister

Kamloops RCMP looking into officer’s ‘black face’ social media posts

“Is my skin racist?” comments Const. Rupert Meinke on Instagram post of skin treatment

B.C. extends income assistance exemption for COVID-19

Provincial program to match Ottawa’s CERB, student pay

Shuswap business duo broaden downtown beach vibe

Jody Boychuk and Eddy Johnston enjoying bigger, brighter Sicamous location

Most Read