The legislature recently introduced for first reading amendments
to the Agricultural Land Commission Act and the Local
Government Act which, if adopted into law, will (among other
things) streamline development of land in the Agricultural Land
Reserve, and insulate in-stream development projects from increases
in development cost charges.
Proposed Amendments to the Agricultural Land Commission
The legislature recently introduced for first reading Bill 24 to
amend the Agricultural Land Commission Act
("ALCA"). If Bill 24 becomes law,
land-use decisions under ALCA will be made by regional panels
taking into account (in some areas) economic and planning
Bill 24 contemplates that the Agricultural Land Reserve will be
conceptually divided into two zones: Zone 1 and Zone 2. Zone 1 will
include areas on Vancouver Island, along the Sunshine Coast, in the
Okanagan and in the Lower Mainland. Zone 2 will include,
primarily, areas in northern and eastern British
Each zone will be composed of "panel
regions". For example, the Southcoast Panel Region will
include, among other, the Fraser Valley Regional District and the
Greater Vancouver Regional District. In each panel region,
land use decisions will be made by a panel composed of members of
the Agricultural Land Commission who reside in the region.
When making land-use decisions in Zone 2 (but not in Zone 1),
the relevant panels will have to consider not only the purposes of
the Agricultural Land Commission – to preserve agricultural
land and encourage farming – but also economic, cultural and
social values and regional and community planning
Under the current ALCA, the Commission is not obligated to
establish regional panels or to consider economic and planning
objectives. The likely purpose of this amendment is to ensure that,
especially in resource development areas, the Commission's
decisions are grounded in regional socio-economic
Proposed Amendments to the Local Government
The legislature recently introduced for first reading Bill 17,
the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act. If Bill 17
becomes law, it will, among other things, amend the Local
Government Act to insulate in-stream rezoning and development
permit applications from increases in development cost charges, and
to phase out any remaining land use contracts.
Protection from increase in
development cost charges
Under the current Local Government Act, if a developer
applies for a building permit for a project, increases in
development cost charges subsequent to such application do not
apply to the project for 12 months after the development cost
charge bylaw is adopted.
If Bill 17 becomes law, developers may be able to trigger
protection from increases in development cost charges at different
stages of the planning process. Bill 17 contemplates that increases
in development cost charges will not apply to a project if a
developer has applied for either a building permit, a development
permit or a rezoning bylaw, and if the building permit for the
project is issued within 12 months after the development cost
charge bylaw is adopted.
Phasing out land use
Some lands in British Columbia are subject to land use contracts
– agreements between a land owner and a local government
about use and development of land which supersede subsequent land
Under the current Local Government Act, local
governments do not have authority to enter into land use contracts;
this authority was repealed in 1978. But, land use contracts remain
registered on title to some lands, and continue to regulate land
use and development of such lands. Local governments have limited
ability to discharge or to amend these land use contracts.
If Bill 17 becomes law, all outstanding land use contracts will
be terminated – either by a bylaw or by operation of the
Local Government Act – by June 30, 2024. Upon such
termination, lands used pursuant to a land use contract will have
to comply with then current land use bylaws.
We will continue monitoring Bill 17 and Bill 24 as they make
their way through the legislature. If you have any questions
on any of these developments, do not hesitate to contact any member
of our local government
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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