- The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is key to supporting and sustaining food production in British Columbia, the farming sector and those who work in it.
- The B.C. government is committed to an ALR that works for farmers. Government’s goals are clear:
- Help farmers grow their businesses and earn a better living;
- Support farming families in continuing to produce food on our fertile land; and
- Ensure the ommission has the modern tools necessary to continue making independent land decisions with the best interests of agriculture in mind.
- The ALR ensures 47,000 square kilometres of B.C. are preserved for agricultural use.
- There is more land in the ALR today than when it was created in 1974. More than 32,000 net-new hectares have been added to ALR since 2001, almost three times the size of the City of Vancouver.
- Land in the ALR falls into one of seven soil classes, ranging from Class 1 (wide range of crops can be grown without difficulty) to Class 7 (unsuitable for soil-based agriculture or sustained grazing, suitable for barns, greenhouses and processing facilities).
- Currently, 10% of the land in the ALR produces 85% of B.C.'s farm cash receipts (FCR) and the 3% of ALR land in the South Coast region produces 66% of the province's FCR.
- By Agricultural Land Reserve region:
- Island region - 2% of ALR, 6% of FCR
- South Coast region - 3% of ALR, 65% of FCR
- Okanagan region - 5% of ALR, 14% of FCR
- Kootenay region - 8% of ALR, 2.5% of FCR
- Interior region - 31% of ALR, 4.5% of FCR
- North region - 50% of ALR, 8% of FCR
The Agricultural Land Commission:
- The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) is an independent, administrative tribunal. The ALC makes land-use decisions within the ALR.
- The ALC bases its decisions on its mandate of preserving agricultural land and encouraging farming in British Columbia.
- The ALC looks at many factors when carrying out its mandate and each application has its own distinct set of circumstances and is considered on its own merits.
- The ALC needs resources. In Balanced Budget 2017, the Province provided $4.5 million in funding to the commission, a $2.6-million or 130% increase since 2012.
Modernizing the ALC:
- In spring 2016, the ministry outlined performance measures for the ALC as part of the Province’s cross-government commitment to strengthening public sector governance and accountability.
- The performance indicators include keeping applicants informed by:
- Acknowledging receipt of a complete application, or identifying the required additional information, within five business days;
- Making decisions within 60 business days of receiving complete applications; and
- Notifying applicants of the decision within five business days of the decision being made.
- Improving compliance and enforcement by developing and implementing a comprehensive approach, and through additional hiring, by Nov. 30, 2016.
- Increasing local government engagement by conducting annual surveys of local governments to identify challenges and opportunities.
- The accountability measures emphasize improved service levels for British Columbians by offering applicants a full refund if they do not receive a decision on their application within 90 business days.
- Since introducing the performance measures, the ALC has eliminated a backlog of 185 applications, and processed over 90% of all of the applications it received since April 1, 2016, within 90 business days of receiving them.
Strengthening the ALR:
- The 2014 legislation enshrines the ALC’s independence, ensuring it has the modern tools to continue making independent land decisions; help farmers grow their businesses; and support food production for future generations.
- The B.C. government established regulations under the ALC Act in 2015 to provide opportunities for farmers to earn new dollars, in both the local and export markets.
- The new regulations preserve farmland and encourage agriculture and will help farming families earn higher incomes, and prepare for the transition of farms from one generation to another.
- These changes were guided by extensive consultations with farming groups and local governments.
- The consultation process included over 100 organizations representing the agriculture industry, local governments, land owners, and other communities of interest, and substantial input from the public (1,600 British Columbians participated in the on-line consultation process or made written submissions).
- The B.C. government delivered on its commitment to talk directly with farmers, local community governments and industry associations to make sure the ALR is working.
- The B.C. government is committed to establishing a business environment that helps farmers succeed, and continue to see their land farmed for generations to come.
- In the summer of 2016, The B.C. government completed an analysis of ALC decision making between 2012 and 2016. The analysis found:
- Approval with conditions has been the most common ALC decision in each of the last five years.
- The number of exclusion decisions varies widely from year to year, but represent a small amount (8%-15%) of the total decisions in each of the five years.
- Non-farm use decisions account for about 20% to 35% of total decisions a year, and generally about three-quarters are approved with or without conditions.
Government Communications and Public EngagementMinistry of Agriculture