Published in 24 Hours Vancouver | April 1, 2014 | Circulation: 280,000+
BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix has called planned changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve “very disappointing.”
Dix spoke out against changes that could see some of the province’s protected farmland — a legacy of his party’s rule four decades ago — opened up to industrial uses.
“The fact the reserve has stayed in good stead even though the NDP largely hasn’t been in office for most of the years shows what sound judgment it was and how unwise it is for the current government now to be undermining the ALR in the way they are,” Dix told 24 hours at a media event in Kitsilano’s Fable Kitchen Restaurant.
The legislature has yet to pass the proposed changes, and Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations Steve Thomson said a public consultation process will ensure farmer and community voices are heard.
“This is about modernizing operations, and ensuring we have effective land use,” Thomson told 24 hours. “People have a lot of speculation that this was about undermining the role of the commission, but this is not the case — what we are doing is ensuring (farmers) have the tools for modern operations.”
For longtime farmer Rebecca Kneen, of Left Fields in Sorrento, the plans reveal a “basic lack of comprehension” about farming, and said her successful on-farm brewery proves the ALR is already flexible enough. She’s most worried about farmland lost to possible oil and gas exploration.
“It’s allowing one particular sector to have power over another, and it’s worrying that it’s allowing the energy sector to have power over our food,” she said. “There is absolutely no way that you can run any kind of oil well and access roads to it without contamination … that removes farmland from viability.”