February 2014 marks the 40th birthday of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), created to protect farmland across BC for agriculture. The ALR has become known in North America and around the world as a forward-thinking and effective planning tool. It is the envy of policymakers in many other jurisdictions. In November 2013, news media reports outlined government threats to the ALR and the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). BC’s farmland is scarce, less than 5% of the provincial land base. In an age when we must grow as much food as we can locally, preservation of farmland is crucial. So, it’s troubling to hear of a recent proposal by B.C. Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm to Cabinet, arguing that the ALC’s mandate should be expanded to include economic development priorities such oil and gas industry, and that decision-making power over agricultural lands should be transferred to the BC Oil and Gas Commission for most of the province.We need a province-wide strategy, namely the one we already have: the ALR, a zoning tool based on soil and climatic potential, with an independent quasi-judicial organization, the ALC, to administer and protect the ALR lands. If the provincial government decides to make oil a priority over food and neuter the ALC, it will propose legislative changes in the spring sitting of the Legislature, which opened on 11 February 2014.Mark your calendar and attend the save the ALR Rally with your family, neighbours, co-workers and friends on March 12th, 7:30-9pm at Selkirk College, Grand Forks. Please share this message with all your contacts, join the event on Facebook- see the Grand Forks and Boundary Regional Agricultural Society Face Book page.
Together, we will save the Agricultural Land Reserve and support farmers and food systems. See you on March 12th!