Lana Popham: ALR consultation a botched process

Saanich-South MLA weighs in on provincial changes to Agricultural Land Reserve

Last spring, the B.C. Liberals passed a law that removes protections for 90 per cent of farmland in British Columbia. They did this without consulting with farmers, communities or the public.

“Trust us,” the B.C. Liberals said, and they promised to consult broadly before using the legislation to further weaken farmland protection.

Unfortunately – the B.C. Liberals are so intent on ramming through their new vision for paving over farmland, that they have no intention of fulfilling the spirit of their promise.

Most people wouldn’t know it, but those so-called consultations are nearly over. They are set to end mid-August, as most farmers across the province are working full speed to get their crops in and out to their customers.

Not only that, but these consultations were closed off to the general public and the media, and the proceedings are not being recorded in detail for the public record. Instead, only a summary will be made available sometime in the future. Not only that, but this draft report will not be sent back to stakeholders for review before regulations are implemented.

Since reporters are barred from the sessions, we’ll have to take the B.C. Liberals’ word for what was said at the meetings.

Even as the agriculture representative for the Official Opposition, I had to fight for the right to attend the meetings.

So far, I’ve travelled to Fort St. John, Prince George, Cranbrook, Nanaimo and Abbotsford.

When the public was promised consultations by the government, they expected more. They expected to be able to participate. They expected that the government would ensure that the timing worked for farmers.

A real consultation process would have allowed more time, more notice, public accessibility to input, and would have been much more extensive than six sessions at a time when farmers are in the middle of harvest.

It’s clear the B.C. Liberals aren’t really interested in hearing from farmers, and they certainly aren’t interested in hearing from the public.

Real action to help farmers would focus on helping them grow their crops, their livestock and their businesses, not on making it easier to develop farmland. Instead, the B.C. Liberals have continually cut the agriculture ministry, slashed extension officers and eliminated programs like Buy B.C. that helped raise the profile of local products.

The ALR was created as an inter-generational legacy to benefit all British Columbians. It shouldn’t be at the mercy of an election cycle or undermined at the whim of a minister. As the ongoing drought in California shows, we can’t depend on being always able to get our food from elsewhere.

There are definitely some changes to the ALR that New Democrats could support – changes that would help farmers, not the developers that make 90 per cent of the applications for land removals from the ALR.

Unfortunately, this botched consultation process is more evidence that the B.C. Liberals have an agenda that’s bad for farmland and bad for farmers.

Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich-South and New Democrat agriculture critic.

 

Just Posted

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Island Savings kick-starts the Equipped to Heal campaign with $120,000. (Courtesy Victoria Hospitals Foundation)
Latest Victoria Hospitals Foundation campaign targets $1M for mental health

Goal is to outfit new 19-bed unit at Eric Martin Pavilion

Google Maps shows significant traffic backups after a crash reported shortly before noon on Father’s Day, June 20. (Google Maps)
Father’s Day crash in Saanich closes lane of McKenzie Avenue

Police say there were injuries, traffic impacted

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read