Farmers seek changes to ALC legislation

New BC Agriculture Council chair says secondary uses in Interior, Kootenay and North threaten sustainability of farming

B.C. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick

Newly appointed Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick is meeting with B.C. Agriculture Council representatives this week to discuss their growing concerns about a plan to set new rules for protected farmland in the B.C. Interior.

When changes to the Agricultural Land Commission were announced in late March, the move was generally endorsed by Rhonda Driediger, then chair of the BCAC. Dreidiger, a berry grower in the Fraser Valley, said opening up the Interior, Kootenay and North regions to secondary uses based on social and economic needs would help farms innovate and stay in business.

Dreidinger has been succeeded as BCAC chair by Stan Vander Waal, who operates flower greenhouses in Chilliwack. After meeting last week with Letnick, Vander Waal wants changes to the legislation.

“It is the position of the B.C. Agriculture Council that as currently written, Bill 24 threatens the sustainability of agriculture in B.C.,” Vander Waal said in a statement.

The BCAC is forming a steering committee of member farmers to continue discussions with the government.

The changes were spearheaded by Energy Minister Bill Bennett as part of the govenment’s “core review” of operations. They would allow consideration of more non-farm uses outside the Island, South Coast and Okanagan regions where most of B.C.’s farm income is generated.

Bill 24 also formalizes the cabinet appointment process for the ALC’s six regional panels, so two or three local farmers make the front-line decisions on applications for permitted uses such as a secondary residence.

NDP agriculture critic Nicholas Simons has protested the legislation since it was revealed.

“The decision to protect land suitable for agriculture 40 years ago was for the benefit of future generations,” Simons said. “Having two zones and the ‘regional panels’ make decisions about agricultural land is too political.”

Bennett said the current ALC chair has refused to appoint local panel members recommended by government, centralizing the ALC function and subverting the intent of changes made in 2003 to provide local input to decisions.

 

Just Posted

Greater Victoria enjoys sunny first day of spring

Summer-like temperatures of 21 degrees hit Wednesday for first day of spring

Sooke mayor vows to fix building permit delay

Maja Tait describes the current process as ‘a mess’

Sooke painter highlights Emily Carr at all-portrait show

Whether or not you are a fan of Emily Carr’s work, check… Continue reading

Search and rescue volunteers work to keep waterways safe

Over 1,000 volunteers help keep mariners safe; headquarters based in Sooke

VIDEO: Can you believe it? This B.C. hill pulls cars backwards up a slope

Sir Isaac Newton had clearly never been to this Vernon anomaly when he discovered gravity

Prime minister defends Liberal budget measures as sales effort gets underway

Conservatives under Andrew Scheer say it’s a spree funded by borrowing against the future

Mayor meets with B.C. health minister on homeless taxi transfers

Two homeless people were discharged from Surrey Memorial and sent to a Chilliwack shelter

B.C. lottery winner being sued by co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Teacher reprimanded for conduct towards special needs student

Alan Stephen Berry told vice principal he did not have time to use positive strategies

Volunteer green team joins forces to restore local habitats

Partnerships with schools educate and facilitate remediations

Having phone within sight while driving does not violate law: B.C. judge

The mere presence of a cell phone within sight of a driver is not enough for a conviction, judge says

Woman punched on the sidelines of B.C. soccer game

Both involved were watching the U21 game in West Vancouver from the sidelines when things got heated

Fraser Health under fire again for taxiing homeless man from Langley to Hope

Patient sent to Hope shelter because a spot in the man’s home community couldn’t be located

Most Read