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

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.

 

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

Just Posted

Parkland Secondary principal Lizanne Chicanot stands by the track which is the subject of a fundraising effort. The 35-year-old track is well beyond its best-before date. (Jason Earnshaw/Submitted)
Fundraising campaign to replace North Saanich track off to the races

Track at Parkland Secondary School ‘well, well beyond its best-before date’

The Sooke Santa Run will feature their youngest members as Santas, an annual tradition for the firefighters in Sooke, East Sooke, Shirley and Otter Point. The drive-by event takes place throughout the Sooke neighbourhood on Dec. 12. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
No one outside fire hall allowed to help volunteer for Sooke Santa Run

Drive-by event takes place on Dec. 12, with goal to raise $15,000

The Sooke School District is actively looking for more bus drivers after they had to cancel a handful of bus routes in late November. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bus driver shortage cancels routes in Sooke School District

More drivers needed to accomodate expanding bus routes amid pandemic

Penny Hart is calling on the community to help find her son Sean Hart who was last seen on Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Search spreads for Saanich man missing from mental health facility for nearly a month

Family hopeful as possible sightings reported across Island and in Vancouver

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Most Read