B.C. agriculture minister: ALR consultation feedback ‘thoughful’

Norm Letnick responds to concern about ALR consultations across B.C.

This spring, the B.C. government passed Bill 24, the Agricultural Land Commission Act, to help farmers grow their business and earn a better living while preserving B.C. farmland for future generations.

We began the process with a clear starting point: the ALC must remain a fully independent tribunal and decision-maker, and continue to make final decisions on specific land uses within the Agricultural Land Reserve; and B.C.’s farmland must be preserved to ensure a sustainable land base for production and a strong future for farming; Bill 24 achieved this by clearly laying out the ALC’s role as an independent decision maker and ensuring it has all of the necessary tools at its disposal to continue making the independent decisions that British Columbians have counted on it to make for more than 40 years.

When I was appointed Minister of Agriculture, I made a commitment that we would consult on the development of any potential new regulations related to Bill 24. This July and August, I delivered on that commitment.

A Minister’s reference group, comprised of representatives from the ALC, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the agricultural industry, was struck and convened to inform the consultation process and any regulatory outcomes.

Our goal was simple: to hear people’s thoughts about the implications of what has been suggested, and gather the best ideas to help farmers earning a living on their land and ensure another generation is ready and willing to get into farming.

Informed by meetings with the reference group, 12 specific questions were drafted covering topics ranging from whether the parametres for allowable on-farm food storage, packing, processing and retail establishments should be revised – to whether breweries, distilleries and meaderies be allowed on ALR land on the same or similar terms as wineries and cideries are currently allowed.

In July and August, Ministry staff, accompanied by representatives from the ALC, met face to face with more than 100 local government and farming organization representatives in six B.C. regions. The group listened to their feedback and ideas. All British Columbians were also invited to participate and share their ideas and views through our public website or by writing me directly.

In addition, throughout August I travelled more than 4,000 kilometres in my van talking with B.C. farmers and ranchers about how best to grow the agriculture sector while encouraging them to provide input on the consultation.

I’m pleased to report we had a strong response from all groups with a broad range of thoughtful comments for consideration.

A Ministry team, together with agriculture policy experts, will read through all of the comments and create a report and summary that will identify main themes and ideas. This report will be presented to the Minister’s reference group, and will be shared publicly.

I want to thank all the British Columbians who took the time to get involved and contacted me with ideas and input.

I’d also like to thank the ALC, whose input and experience was invaluable throughout this process, for their assistance at the regional sessions, as well as the members of the board of the B.C. Agriculture Council, other industry representatives, members of the UBCM, and MLAs who attended these sessions as observers.

We believe giving farmers more opportunities to grow their farming businesses is a benefit to them.

We also think it’s a benefit to British Columbians who want access to more foods grown in this province.

I am confident that together, we can help ensure a strong future for farming in British Columbia.

Norm Letnick

Minister of Agriculture

 

Just Posted

Trapped Vancouver Island crash survivor celebrates second chance at life

“Life is good now. It’s good to be alive.”

Oak Bay’s Spandads help give new life to used bikes

Local cycling club is donating 100 bikes worldwide to those in need

More affordable housing for Indigenous residents coming to Langford

40 units will be added to Station Avenue development

Reader Response: Victoria’s wages not meeting general needs

Victoria was recently ranked as one of the worst cities in B.C. to work in due to low average income

VIDEO: Ballet Victoria’s take on the The Nutcracker tours Vancouver Island and the Mainland

Performances in Revelstoke, Coquitlam, Chilliwack and Victoria

POLL: Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

The rain Vancouver Island is famous for is coming down in buckets,… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 11, 2018

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

Sissons scores OT winner as Predators beat Canucks 4-3

VIDEO: Vancouver battles back to earn single point in Nashville

High streamflow advisory in effect across the Island

River Forecast Centre issues advisory as Pacific storms batter the coast

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

Man in his 60s dies in ATV accident north of Parksville

BC Coroners Service investigating the death

VIDEO: Kitten rescued from under school bus in Duncan

School staff have affectionately called kitten “Axle”

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Most Read