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

Documents show re-development of Saanich’s University Heights on hold

Third open house on proposed development postponed

Elizabeth May’s wedding dress a ‘walk through a garden’ on Earth Day

Green Party leader set to get married in Victoria

Peninsula students taking advantage of French activities

Canadian Parents for French help organize and promote activities

Monday sees rain with high of 10 C

Plus your weekly forecast

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

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

Trudeau to be portrayed on ‘Simpsons’ episode

Toronto journalist who’s posted videos of himself doing impressions of the PM voiced him for the show

Campbell River RCMP say alcohol and speed may be factors in collision

Woman injured after driver ran into her car on Highway 19A, says fire captain

Bodies of 3 mountain climbers recovered after last week’s Banff avalanche

The men disappeared while attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway

Happy birthday: Queen Elizabeth II turns 93 on Easter Sunday

Sunday is the first of two birthday celebrations each year for the queen

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

Most Read