The Agricultural Land Commission has been reviewing the situation of BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve and has issued a preliminary report with recommendations to “revitalize” and protect farmland in BC. The report urges the BC government to adopt an “agriculture first” priority for land use. Here’s an excerpt:
Urgent Need to Curb Speculation in the ALR
As urban land prices increase and population grows, the pressure to develop agricultural land continues to build. Agricultural land is being taken out of production and investors and speculators are being allowed to exploit tax system incentives intended only for those who farm.
The permissive nature of the ALC Act and regulations, that include very few, if any, limits on the size and scale of permitted farm and non-farm uses, including both mega-homes, and regulations that allow anyone to apply to remove land or develop non-farm uses in the ALR regardless of how long they have owned a property or farmed it, contributes to the perception that the ALR is “open for development”.
The Committee believes speculation on agricultural land must be curtailed if the long term viability of agriculture in B.C. is to be realized. The ALC was intended to protect and encourage the agricultural use of land. It was not intended to be a rationing board tasked with regulating the slow release of agricultural land from the reserve or the conversion of the land base to support non-farm uses.