Opinion

Letter: Regarding Bill 24, ALC legislation

We are relieved and very encouraged to finally see potential changes to the ALR.  Kootenay livestock association has been asking for and working with our MLA Bill Bennett to make these desperately needed changes for the last 5 years.

We are so fortunate to have these three ministers Bennett, Pimm and Thompson that have worked tirelessly to get this legislation moving.  It is a very controversial issue and it has been and continues to be a difficult task.  We need more politicians that are prepared to do the right thing and not just take the easy road.  This is a rough road with lots of pot holes and we thank and admire them all for staying the course.

It is important to remember that the primary purpose of the ALR legislation from 1972 was to “preserve agricultural land and encourage the establishment and maintenance of farms”.

The ALC in our opinion has done a very poor job of the “encouragement and establish and maintenance of farms”.

That is sadly evident by the loss of our agricultural producers due to age and economics, as well as the extreme lack of young people staying on or returning to the land.

The ALC can argue lack of resources, the 1972 list of allowable uses, etc. etc. We have heard all their excuses, but we maintain that if they would have taken their tunnel vision blinders off and re-read their mandate they would have done the right thing and started encouraging governments a long time ago, to take action on the real problem which is the loss not of our agricultural lands, but the loss of our agricultural producers.

That is exactly what bill 24 is about, and it is high time!!

It is evident that some folks look at the changes and can only see subdivisions, agricultural land sacrifice, and spooks in the hayloft!

Those folks are not being fair, or they are not clearly reading the entire document with an open mind.

Bill 24 will offer our agricultural producers the opportunity to diversify, which should better their economics, it should make the opportunities more attractive to our young people, and both of those are critical to the survival of our industry.

Bill 24 will also allow the ALC to consider economic, cultural and social values when looking at applications.  The regional panels will have a stronger ability to make common sense decisions on applications from their regions.  You can’t argue that folks that live in our region know much better what is best for our region much more than an outsider from the lower mainland.

For those that think and have stated publicly that there is no non productive agricultural land in the Kootenay’s they need to get  their butt in a saddle and ride the rocky ridges that have no availability to irrigation and many, many other area’s that are not viable for food production.  Throw enough money and yes we could make lettuce grow on top of fisher peak, but that is not economically viable and common sense decisions need to be made regarding the land that should be within the ALR and the land that should not.

The policies and regulations that support bill 24 are not fully drafted yet and all three ministers have committed to consultation with our industry regarding those, what more can we ask for??

Bill 24 is a life breath to a dying industry.  We thank ministers Bennett, Pimm, and Thompson also premier Christy Clark for all their unwavering support, hard work and dedication to our industry.

We strongly encourage this government to remain “cowboy tough and country strong”.  stay the course, and work with our industry to ensure bill 24 has the right policies and regulations to make the future of our industry bigger and better.

Sometimes we all need to be reminded meal by meal that:

If you eat you are involved in agriculture.

 

~Faye and Steve Street,

Cranbrook

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