Creston Valley farmers gathered outside the Creston and District Community Complex to protest changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Kootenay Boundary governments resolution tells province more consultation needed on Agricultural Land Reserve bill

Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments requesting the provincial government to delay passage of Bill 24...

The Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments has passed an amended resolution requesting the provincial government to delay passage of Bill 24.

Delegates to the convention, including regional directors, mayors and councillors throughout the east and west Kootenay and Boundary regions, passed by a throng of protesters and tractors on Friday morning before entering the meeting site in Creston.

The rally was organized to express opposition to proposed legislation that would divide the province’s agricultural land into two zones, with Creston Valley relegated to Zone 2, joining less productive lands in north and central B.C.

“This is the kind of bill that doesn’t allow a chance for people to talk to one another,” said Regional District of Central Kootenay Area E director Ramona Faust.

Earlier, stopping to speak to rally participants, Creston Mayor Ron Toyota and RDCK Area C director Larry Binks expressed support for moving the Creston Valley into the Zone 1 category, where it would be joined with Vancouver Island, Southwest and Okanagan regions. Zone 1 would generally maintain the status quo for lands in the Agricultural Land Reserve. Zone 2 lands will be more easily opened up to other forms of development, including liquid natural gas development in the northern half of the province.

“The support we have been hearing from local government delegates has been overwhelming,” said Nadine Ben-Rabha, one of the rally’s organizers.

She is part of a family-run farm in Lister that produces organic milk and cheese, leasing land from 27 different landowners to grow cattle feed.

The City of Nelson originally introduced a resolution requesting that regions wishing to be in Zone 1 should not be arbitrarily categorized as Zone 2 “and that the provincial government accept application from local governments that wish to remain classified as Zone 1.”

The final resolution was an amended version requesting “that the provincial government undertake consultation with the public, the UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) and other affected parties, and that Bill 24 not be brought into force until such consultation is complete.”

The resolution passed with only a handful of dissenting votes among more than 100 delegates. It will now be referred to the UBCM for further consideration.

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