Tag Archives: Agricultural Land Commission

BC to Lose Agricultural Land Reserve

Did you see the recent Globe & Mail article, ‘Sacrosanct’ Agricultural Land Commission Eyed for Breakup? Yup, there’s talk once again of tossing aside the Agricultural Land Reserve, this time in favour of the Oil and Gas Commission. I’m (almost) speechless at the short-sightedness and glassy-eyed greed of the proposal.


Courtesy of www.smartgrowth.bc.ca

Why, oh why do we keep having to have this discussion? I mean the one about profits for the few in the short term vs. common sense for all for long term.

The Agricultural Land Reserve was the genius of some forward-thinking folks who wanted to protect our prime agricultural land from those with short term, self-interested designs on it.

Up to the 1970’s nearly 6000 hectares of prime agricultural land were lost each year to urban and other uses. The Provincial government responded to the serious erosion of our agricultural land base by introducing BC’s Land Commission Act on April 18, 1973.

A Commission, appointed by the Provincial government, established a special land use zone to protect BC’s dwindling supply of agricultural land. This zone was called the “Agricultural Land Reserve”.  Source

Want a little more background?

“The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a collection of agricultural land in the Canadian province of British Columbia in which agriculture is recognized as the priority. In total, the ALR covers approximately 47,000 square kilometres (18,000 sq mi) and includes private and public lands that may be farmed, forested or are vacant. Some ALR blocks cover thousands of hectares while others are small pockets of only a few hectares. The reserve is administered by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), consisting of a chair and six vice-chairs appointed by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council of British Columbia (cabinet) and twelve regular commissioners appointed by the provincial Minister of Agriculture and Lands.

The ALR was established by the British Columbia New Democratic Party government of Dave Barrett in 1973, when it was considered to be the most progressive legislation of its kind in North America. It was intended to protect valuable agricultural land that has among the most fertile soil in the country from being lost. Despite having been in existence for over 30 years, however, the ALR continues to be threatened by urbanization and the land development industry…

Defenders of ALR policy respond that the province has little arable land, especially of such productivity as exists on the Fraser River delta around Vancouver, and that the ALR protects British Columbia’s important agriculture sector… Defenders of the ALR have been distressed in recent years at what they see as the weakening of the policy, by the designation of golf courses as “agricultural land” and the removal of ALR-protected lands for residential, commercial, and industrial development.”  Source

We’ve been at this argument for a long time. Sigh. I get really tired of rehashing old news. And I just don’t understand why people don’t get what seems so obvious to me:

If we pave over all the land that we can grow food on,

where are we gonna get our food from, exactly?

Bringing in food from outside sources isn’t sustainable long term and leaves us vulnerable. We’ve got to think of the big picture, like those guys were back in the 1970’s.