DELTA (August 8, 2018) – It’s an attack on local decision-making and agricultural expertise.
That from BC Liberal Agriculture Critic Ian Paton, after NDP Agriculture Minister Lana Popham released the interim report of the committee reviewing the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and Agricultural Land Committee (ALC).
In that report, the committee recommends eliminating the ALC’s six regional panels. Paton says that means the knowledge of local farmers and ranchers won’t be considered when it comes to making decisions on the use of agricultural land.
“Currently these panel members actually live in the regions where they are appointed, and have the appropriate agricultural expertise to make decisions on applications from that region,” says Paton, MLA for Delta South. “Doing away with these panels would undermine local decision-making and knowledge of the land. It could mean that a commissioner on the Lower Mainland ends up making decisions for the rest of the province without knowing the unique conditions and circumstances of each region.”
Paton notes the former BC Liberal government instituted those regional panels as part of a series of reforms that relieved a massive backlog of applications. “A move back to one provincial panel will create nothing but uncertainty and more red tape for agricultural landowners,” says Paton.
Meanwhile the report also recommends the removal of zone 2 from the ALR, which will diminish landowners’ flexibility to live off the land.
Furthermore, Paton notes the interim report creates a climate of uncertainty for the entire natural resource sector in British Columbia as it seeks to put up more roadblocks to economic development.