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

Chief Joe Alphonse
OP-ED: Williams Lake municipal, regional councils lack awareness on historical trauma

Systemic racism isn’t always obvious to those that are not experiencing it

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The City of Williams Lake is asking for public feedback on whether it should explore the opportunity to host a Greater Metro Hockey League team in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake GMHL expansion questions, concerns, to be discussed later this month

If approved, the team would begin play in the fall of 2021

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

(File photo)
Kamloops Mountie bitten while arresting woman

The assault on March 1 is the latest in a string of incidents that have left local officers injured

Most Read