Paula Sobie

Fighting ALR changes with a Day of Action at the Kootenay Co-op

The Kootenay Co-op hosted a Day of Action to raise awareness about the provincial government's proposed changes to the ALR.

The Agricultural Land Reserve is facing changes by the provincial government and not everyone agrees with the government’s direction.  The Kootenay Co-op hosted a Day of Action on Saturday to raise awareness to the proposed changes. A petition was available for people to sign opposing Bill 24.

The proposed Bill 24, the 2014 Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act includes creating two agricultural zones in BC rather than one.

The Fraser Valley, Okanagan Valley and Southern Vancouver Island would be deemed Zone 1, which currently 10 per cent of the ALR.

The rest of the BC would become Zone 2, which contains 90 per cent of the ALR.

Bill 24, Section 4 now requires that Zone 2 land use requests to the Agricultural Land Commission must include economic, cultural and social values; regional and community planning objectives and “other prescribed considerations” in their decision criteria.

BC Food Systems Network co-chair Abra Brynne thinks the government has not done a proper public consultation “for something as important as allowable land for growing our food.”

“Only five per cent of applications to use land in the ALR for expanded use come from farmers,” said Brynne.

“The other 95 percent come from industry and developers. [These changes] will leave land in the ALR too susceptible to cultural, economic and political pressures.”

Critics say this will open the door for the oil and gas industry in the north.

Bill 24 is going before the legislature when it goes back into session this week under new Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick.

The ALR was established in 1973 to protect BC farmland from development and accounts for less than five per cent of the provincial land base.

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