VICTORIA - Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick has released the following statement on Bill 24, the Agricultural Land Commission Act:
“Today I am introducing amendments to Bill 24, which take into account the written feedback of British Columbians and following input gained from meetings with leaders in B.C.’s agricultural sector. The comments expressed are as diverse as the province itself and have been very useful in my deliberations.
“The amendments allow the ALC chair or regional panel to refer applications to the ALC’s executive committee, if the chair determines that a decision could have substantial impact on the ALR. The executive committee consists of the chair and the six vice chairs, one from each region.
“Criteria will be clearly defined in regulation and could include, for example, applications with inter-regional significance, major land or large infrastructure considerations, new types of applications that have not been considered before or when the local panel determines it is best heard by the provincial committee.
“Bill 24 also is being amended to clearly outline, in priority order, the criteria the commission must consider in all land-use decisions in zone 2 (North, Interior and Kootenay). This priority list will begin with whether the ALC considers the proposal to meet with the purposes of the commission, namely the preservation of agricultural land, encouraging farming and enabling farm use on agricultural land. All other factors would follow in descending order of priority. This change is intended to confirm the ALC’s priority remains preserving farming and ensuring panels make decisions in the best interests of agriculture.
“B.C. is a large, diverse province with different agricultural practices, different population and development pressures and different social and cultural realities in our different regions. A one-size-fits-all approach to regulating farmland does not reflect this reality.
“While it is very difficult to reach complete consensus, I want to thank British Columbians for conveying their thoughts and vision to me. I believe these changes improve the existing act, maintain the preservation of agricultural land as the number one priority, and continue to support farmers and the growth of the agricultural sector as was always intended.
“British Columbians want the commission to continue making independent decisions, with preservation of farmland as its number one priority. These amendments to Bill 24 ensure those views are clearly written in law.”
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Agriculture