Public input on changes to the ALR closes on August 22 – only 4 more days to provide your feedback to the government. The whole process around Bill 24 has been highly problematic, yet I encourage everyone to take the time to voice your opinion!!!
The BC Food Systems Network released a document with their answers to the public input questions which is a great guide to better understanding the intricacies of what is being asked. Whether you take the same position as the BCFSN or not, it is a useful read to inform your understanding and implications of what is being asked.
Bill 24 to amend the Agricultural Land Commission Act (ALCA) was passed by the provincial government in May with little public consultation and despite widespread concerns voiced across the province. The amendments to the ALCA bring about significant changes to the structure and decision making process of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) and to the management of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
The government has conducted an invite only stakeholder consultation process over this past week. The stakeholder process was structured around the same questions included in the online public process. The following background document from the government explains specific changes to the ALCA being introduced with Bill 24 and explains the consultation process the government has undertaken.
I participated in one of the stakeholder consultation sessions this past Thursday on behalf of the Young Agrarians network. It was made very clear by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture that we were not there to provide feedback on Bill 24 as it has already been passed in is a ‘done deal’, we were there to provide input on the provided questions only. I provided significant feedback on all of the questions as well as voiced my concerns over the wider changes being brought about by Bill 24 and the implications for new and beginning farmers who are already facing challenges with respect to land cost, land access and insecure tenure on farmland. My overarching emphasis throughout the consultation process was that I did not support any changes that would led to an increase in non-farm uses on farmland. I submitted a written statement which can be read here – Young Agrarians ALR Consultation Input
The questions provided in the consultation are quite detail oriented and complicated and may be a challenge for many people to provide answers to. Of the key consideration is to what extent non-farm (called permitted uses) should be allowed on ALR land and whether these uses should be allowed without an application to the ALC.