Following a core review of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR)
by B.C. Energy Minister Bill Bennett and months of reports of an
upcoming bill, the B.C. Government has introduced Bill 24 which divides the ALR in two zones
purporting to recognize the Province's regional
In Zone 1, which would comprise much of the Lower Mainland and
include Vancouver Island, the South Coast and the Okanagan, the ALR
would be administered substantially the same as it is now. In these
significantly developed areas, Agricultural Land Commission
decisions would continue to be focused on protecting farmland.
In Zone 2, which would comprise the Interior, the North and the
Kootenays – considered to contain more marginal soil quality
– a new section 4.3 of the Agricultural Land Commission
Act (British Columbia) would provide the Commission with more
"flexibility" to consider "economic, cultural and
social values" as well as "regional and community
The Government also indicated that further changes may be
considered to allow "new, limited, value-added farming
activities, such as food processing on farmland."
The specifics of what can be developed under the new rules are
Reaction to the Bill has been mixed, with some commentators
applauding the changes while others have denounced the Bill or
expressed skepticism. The size and necessity of the B.C.
Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) has been a matter of intense debate
since its introduction in 1973. Restrictions on real estate
development on lands within the ALR are routinely advanced as
stifling economic growth, while supporters feel development should
be limited to protect farmers, farmland and domestic food supply
In January, for example, Wendell Cox, principal of Demographia,
a St. Louis-based research firm, told Business in Vancouver (BIV) that the
region's ALR is largely responsible for high housing prices in
Metro Vancouver and that "the leadership of B.C. has placed
the preservation of agricultural land at a higher priority than the
standard of living of people and the minimization of poverty."
Conversely, in an article published in BIV in November, Peter
Ladner argues that the best way to make the most of the ALR
farmland's economic potential is to start enforcing the
existing rules and that Minister Bennett should be strengthening
the ALR, not weakening it.
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.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).