Frank Leonard on the trestle over Blenkinsop Lake

Former Saanich mayor Frank Leonard assigned chair of Agricultural Land Commission

Former Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard named interim chair of Agricultural Land Commission

The B.C. government appointed former Saanich mayor Frank Leonard as chair and interim CEO of the Agricultural Land Commission on Thursday.

Current board chair and CEO Richard Bullock was surprised at his dismissal. He’ll receive a severance consistent with the rest of his contract, a five-year term that ends in November.

Leonard will hold combined duties as the board chair and CEO for a period of five months while he leads the search for a new CEO. He will continue as the chair for a three year term.

“It’s a challenge I’m excited about, an incredible honour, ALR is something I care about,” said Leonard, who was in orientation with ALC staff in Burnaby on Thursday. “This is unique as I have a steep learning curve and I am essentially replacing myself.”

NDP agricultural critic Lana Popham discredited the move, saying it weakens farmland protection, adding a direct criticism of Leonard.

“By replacing B.C.’s agricultural watch dog with someone with no background in agriculture, the B.C. Liberals are making it clear that their attack on the ALR has only just begun.”

Leonard pointed to Saanich’s longstanding support of ALR protection and decades of experience with B.C. policy.

“I love policy and I’ve made land use decisions for 28 years in a public forum, my judgement in dealing with land use applications is quite relevant,” he said. “Saanich’s land use policies were very protective of the ALR, we wanted those who own land in the ALR for it to be economically variable, but certainly the rest of B.C. doesn’t look like Saanich.”

Since ending an 18-year run as Saanich mayor in November, Leonard has become chair of Parkbridge Lifestyles Communities, vice-chair of the Municipal Pension Plan and joined the board of directors for the Victoria Airport Authority.

Leonard’s pay is $625 per day as chair/CEO of the ALC, a part time role that will be close to full time for the first five months.

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick said with new Bill 24 regulations taking effect to manage the Agricultural Land Reserve, it was time to make a change and let Leonard and the board choose a new CEO.

The B.C. government has been at odds with Bullock since early in his five-year term, when he stopped appointing commissioners to six regional panels around the province. Energy Minister Bill Bennett, who pushed through the two-zone system under the auspices of his “core review” of government services, said a year ago that Bullock found the regional panels to be “a pain in the ass” and preferred to run the commission from its head office in Burnaby. So the government mandated regional appointments in legislation along with the two-zone concept.

Leonard takes over as the ALC deals with a vast Interior “zone two” with relaxed rules for second residences and non-farm activities. Commissioners are also expected to deal with applications by a British manufacturing giant buying B.C. Interior farms to turn back to forest for European Union carbon credits.

Letnick said the regional panels are up and running, and he doesn’t expect the change at the top to cause delays in making decisions on farmland use or exclusion.

Leonard will split time between the ALC head office in Burnaby and his home in Saanich.

– With files from Tom Fletcher

Just Posted

Queue up a playlist of Victoria musicians

Local guitarist, Cody Rueger, creates playlist to highlight Victoria’s music scene

Block party hosted in Oak Bay to welcome two young Syrian refugees

Funds raised will support the brothers for first year on Island

Plans for Colwood’s Royal Beach property moving forward

Seacliff Properties to hold open house on June 25

Ambulance service practises virtual reality CPR in Victoria

Training takes place on B.C. Parliament lawns

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

POLL: Do you support the government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

The federal government announced Tuesday its approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Federal cabinet ministers visit Edmonton, Calgary, in wake of TMX approval

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi is set to visit Trans Mountain Corp.’s terminal in Edmonton

B.C. municipality prepares to forbid overnight camping by homeless despite court ruling

While courts have ruled against blanket bans, Langley City is employing a site-by-site approach

B.C. auditor says Indigenous grad rate highest ever but education gaps exist

The percentage of Indigenous students graduating from B.C. public high schools has hit its highest level ever

Statistics Canada reports annual pace of inflation rises in May to 2.4%

Transportation prices gained 3.1 per cent as the cost of air transportation added 8.9 per cent

BREAKING: Forest fire on North Island disrupts Hwy. 19

Wildfire has reached .25 hectares, according to BC Wildfire Service

Man to be sentenced for sexual abuse of young girl in Nanaimo

Stephen Mark Castleden also sentenced for child pornography-related charges

Most Read