Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis has been named to an independent committee with members from diverse agricultural backgrounds and experiences that will lead the revitalization of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) through an authentic and meaningful consultation process with stakeholders and British Columbians.
The announcement was made Thursday by provincial Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham.
“I am proud and grateful to have attracted British Columbians with the knowledge, expertise, passion and experience that the committee members possess for agriculture,” said Popham.
“The ALR and the ALC are incredibly important to the health and economic well-being of our province’s future, and making it easier and more efficient for the commission to fulfill its mandate of protecting farmland and encouraging farming is a commitment the B.C. government is delivering on.”
Louis has more than 25 years of knowledge and experience at various levels of the political spectrum.
He was first elected to Council in 1991, then designated as chair of the Okanagan Nation Fisheries Commission in 1995 and as a title and rights advisor at the Tribal Council and regional level, and political liaison designate with U.S.-based tribal, public and private utilities (hydro-electric generation) and state and federal authorities.
Over the course of his career, Louis has served in various facets of political office involving natural resource management, economic development, public works, community planning, liaison and strategic development and negotiation with various levels of senior government and the private sector.
Louis continues to work extensively on First Nations social and economic issues and interests and is currently serving his fourth term as Chief of the Okanagan Indian Band.
The nine-member Minister of Agriculture’s Advisory Committee will provide strategic advice, policy guidance, and recommendations on how to help revitalize the ALR and ALC to ensure the provincial goals of preserving agricultural land and encouraging farming and ranching in British Columbia continue to be a priority.
The committee will be chaired by Jennifer Dyson, with members from throughout the province with diverse agricultural knowledge and experience.
“As we embark on this consultation, our collective mandate is to ensure that the ALC and agriculture is positioned for the future,” said Dyson.”I am asking that each of our review committee members listen to what is being said, honestly, impartially, professionally and in a principled fashion. I am looking forward to the conversations.”
Beginning in early 2018, the committee will:
* Share a consultation paper to seek opinions and feedback on revitalizing the ALR and ALC;
* Host regional meetings to hear opinions and feedback directly from the local farming and ranching communities in Abbotsford, Cranbrook, Fort St. John, Kelowna, Kamloops, Nanaimo and Prince George; and
* Open an online consultation process to seek public opinion.
The committee will use the input it receives during the consultation process to develop recommendations for the provincial government’s consideration. The recommendations may include changes to the current legislative, regulatory, and administrative framework to revitalize the ALR and the ALC. Any legislative changes that support the revitalization of the commission and the reserve are targeted for late 2018 or early 2019.