Opposition strong to expanded farmland uses

The popular ideas for Agricultural Land Reserve changes were to allow breweries and distilleries, as well as leasing farms

Allowing breweries and distilleries on farmland

The B.C. government’s proposals to expand food processing, retail and alcohol sales on farmland got a rough ride during a summer consultation tour with farmers, local governments and individuals invited to comment.

The agriculture ministry released a summary of submissions this week, after closed-door meetings in August with community, farming, ranching and agricultural industry representatives. The meetings were set up to develop regulations after the province passed legislation this spring, dividing the Agricultural Land Reserve into two zones with the intent of easing restrictions on farm-related and non-farm revenue activities.

A proposal to revise regulations restricting food storage, processing and retail sales, requiring half of products to be produced on the farm, was rejected by “a considerable majority of stakeholders from all regions,” the summary states.

With wineries and cideries already allowed on farmland, a proposal to extend the regulation to include breweries, distilleries and meaderies was supported by a majority in all regions, particularly from local governments in Zone 1, the Lower Mainland, Okanagan and Vancouver Island.

Wineries and cideries are allowed without approval from the Agricultural Land Commission, as long as half of the materials are produced on the farm. Some questioned whether that rule would work for breweries and distilleries, with hops, malting barley and distilling grain not produced in large quantities in B.C.

The government’s suggestion to allow larger tasting areas for wine, cider and potentially beer and distilled liquor was also rejected by “a considerable majority” of respondents. Selling alcoholic products not produced on the host farm was also opposed by a large majority, with opposition strongest in the North and Vancouver Island regions.

The loudest opposition came in response to the suggestion to allow a wider range of non-farm activities without approval of the ALC. The strongest supporters were landowners in Zone 2 (Interior, Kootenay and North regions). Oil and gas services on farmland are already allowed in northeastern B.C. under supervision of the Oil and Gas Commission.

The proposal to waive ALC approval for farmland subdivisions larger than a quarter section (64 hectares) was also opposed by a large majority, but the suggestion of leasing farmland to put it into production was widely supported.

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick is preparing regulation changes for the cabinet approval, and hopes to have new regulations in place by the end of the year.

The consultation received more than 1,500 submissions by mail, email and through its website, and held meetings in Kelowna, Kamloops, Prince George, Fort St. John, Cranbrook, Nanaimo and Abbotsford.

 

Just Posted

Final key components for Johnson Street Bridge installed this weekend in Victoria

Dynamic Beast crane barge arrives back in town on Friday

Metchosin supports moving to three-year municipal term

Some councillors say four years is too much of a commitment

Wind warning in effect for Greater Victoria

Strong winds could reach up to 80 km/hr along coastal areas

Whisky society commits to charity donation in wake of whisky raids

Refund of Victoria Whiskey Festival tickets won’t impact charity beneficiaries

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington for the day

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, “high avalanche danger”

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Touring art from war-torn Syria on display at Cedar Hill

Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art, Jan. 24 to Feb. 5 at Cedar Hill Arts Centre

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Vessel washed ashore in Campbell River during last night’s storm

A vessel appears to have gotten loose and washed to shore on… Continue reading

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

Most Read