This is the second part of a 3 part series on the ALR. How did we get to where we are and where do we go from here. In part one we explored the history and what was the justification for entrenching ALR into everyday life. We looked at how it changed civic planning and how it inflated land values. As far as an entity it did preserve farmland for future generations.
Some of the early years saw court challenges and hostile reaction. Ironically, many of those who so fervently opposed it support it today. For those wondering, there is a majority of support locally and provincially. I remember the level of support from when I was a Board Member of the BC Agriculture Council prior to my retirement.
When the act came to be, one of the issue was land severance for those who owned the farm prior to 1973. This was to accommodate those who would retire and the next generation could build on the land. After 1973 the rules do not allow for that. I will address this latest proposed set of changes with closer scrutiny in part three.
For those who attempt to skirt the rules, the old saying applies buyer beware. There is in my view a role for the Real Estate Industry to make sure foreign buyers or even out of province buyers are aware of the reserve. To be fair everyone one of the Real Estate people I have talked with does point out the ALR and what it means, and how it might affect the buyer.
At one time the land commission had to become involved in policing rental structures on ALR farmland. The prime reason was worker housing and worker cabins were rented for residential housing. This was not permitted under the act.
Municipal Governments were involved as the cabins and structures did not meet safety codes for electrical and fire safety.
Today residential additions for public accommodation is prohibited. There are worker housing restrictions and rules to prevent accommodation being rented for other purposes.
Yes there will be those who violate the rules and enforcement is being done on a complaint basis.
One other factor governing residential accommodation and other non farm uses will see more enforcement through farm food safety regulations.
A few years ago the ALR was dusted off and subjected to a review by then Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick. There was a firestorm of reaction, pro and con from farmers and the general public. I was part of the discussion process and the debate as a member of the BC Ag Council Board. The biggest controversy was the two zone concept. Zone one consisted of the lower mainland, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan. We opposed the two zones to no avail.
Housing was second…
It was the concern of many that the change was made to make it easier to develop rural lands in advance of the pipeline construction programs. It should be noted there are large tracts of very fertile land in zone two. Then again when it suits a government project deemed to be in the public interest, money still talks. The site C Dam is going to flood some prime farmland.
So we have the background of how things came about and why we have what we have. There is always pressure on ALR land.
Non Farm use has always been with us. Here are some examples:
Many Golf Courses are non farm use within the ALR
Motor Home Storage is a non farm use
Some Agri-Tourism is a non farm use.
Winery restaurants and brew pubs.
These should not be confused with cideries and fruit stands which are part of innovation and farm related. The question for me is – should packinghouses be allowed on farmland within the ALR?
Operations such as body shops, and commercial industry is not permitted without land commission approval which is rarely allowed.
In part three we will bring you up to date on housing changes, housing sizes, and how the perception of change either confirms or contradicts the reality of what is proposed.