Posted by Darcy Smith on March 01, 2018

Are you a farmer leasing ALR land? Have you come up against any challenges around housing regulations, taxation issues, or agricultural status? Are there ways you hope to see the ALR work better for you as a farm operator?

Currently there is a review underway of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to enable B.C. farmers, farmland owners and the public to have an opportunity to have their voices heard this spring, and help revitalize the ALR.

The ALR has two main mandates: protect farmland and promote farming. This review is framed by the Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham, to review and address threats to farmland, as well as create legislation that not only protects the land but also encourages farming activities. An advisory committee is currently leading the ALR review, which includes a public engagement process both through regional in-person sessions and on-line written submissions. This public engagement process will be essential to informing the advisory’s recommendations.

What’s Your ALR Issue (+ Solution)?

Young Agrarians has heard stories from across the province about the challenges facing new and young farmers around the affordability of farmland and the housing challenges associated with ALR land, both for farmers leasing and those pursuing shared ownership models. Farmers express concerns about mega-mansions being built on ALR land that is then not farmed.

How would you approach residential use on farmland? What solutions do you have in mind? One current suggestion is the idea of a “home plate” on the property, where a farmer could build one larger home or multiple smaller dwellings, tiny homes, or other residential spaces within an overall home plate that allows for multiple dwellings.

Farmers have also expressed concerns about speculation on farmland and the current tax incentives on farmland. Would you change the gross revenue threshold for achieving Farm Status? Provide extra incentives for those actively farming? Or penalties for those not farming ALR land? Do you have a different approach to taxing ALR land?

Many farmers also remember the controversy over Bill 24 (#felfie and #farmers4alr, anyone?). In 2014, Bill 24 split the ALR into Zone 1 and Zone 2, to allow for increased flexibility of non-farm use in Zone 2, a change opposed by many farmers at the time. Going back further in time, several decades ago the ALC owned farmland and leased it to farmers on 20 year leases – is that something you’d like to see reinstated?

The advisory needs to hear your personal stories and experiences on how the current state of the ALR has made it a challenge for you to create or maintain a viable farming enterprise. Be specific, give examples, and share your ideas and solutions on how the ALR could be revitalized to work for farmers.

How to Submit

You can provide written feedback and solutions to ALR issues near and dear to your heart in several ways. Comments must be in by April 30, 2018, but the sooner the better!

1. Through an online survey for public feedback focus on collecting British Columbians’ opinions and views on 10 common themes:

  • A defensible and defended ALR
  • ALR resilience
  • Stable governance
  • Efficacy of Zones 1 and 2
  • Interpretation and implementation of the act and regulation
  • Food security and B.C.’s agricultural contribution
  • Residential uses in the ALR
  • Farm processing and sales in the ALR
  • Unauthorized uses
  • Non-farm uses and resource extraction in the ALR

2. Submit comments by email to the Advisory Committee – you don’t need to stick to the list of issues outlined above, so share your personal stories and solutions:

3. Send your submission by mail to:

Minister’s Advisory Committee
Revitalization of ALR and ALC
C/o Ministry of Agriculture
PO Box 9120
Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria BC V8W 9B4

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