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2 months ago

Richmond FarmWatch

News from the Ministry of Agriculture.Hi all,

I’m pleased to share that effectively immediately landowners in the ALR who want to put a manufactured home on their property for immediate family now have until February 2020 to get their permits in place. Balancing the protection of the ALR with the diversity of the needs of ALR families is a key interest of the B.C. Government.

As we’ve worked to make long overdue changes to help farmers farm, we heard from some folks living in the ALR, many of whom aren’t farming but who purchased ALR land for residential use. Some of these people have been caught in the transition. This change provides flexibility for people owning land in the ALR, even if they aren’t currently farming. And people who are farming continue to be able to apply to the ALC for additional residence(s) to support their farming activities.

My focus is helping farmers farm and that means making sure farmers have the flexibility they need to be successful in their farm businesses, while protecting the agricultural land reserve for future generations. Less than 5% of B.C.'s land is in the ALR. We need to protect this farmland to support farmers, encourage agriculture jobs and strengthen food security in B.C.

More information about today’s announcement is provided here: news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019AGRI0054-001392
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4 months ago

Richmond FarmWatch

This is what we’ve been waiting for: the final committee report to the Minister of Agriculture. See link in comments for full report. ...

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4 months ago

Richmond FarmWatch

Local Richmond farmer showing support for Bill 15. Thank you Miles Smart from Cherry Lane Farms. #farmers4bill15 Lana Popham ...

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4 months ago

Richmond FarmWatch

Lana Popham
Watch this powerful clip from Minister Jinny Sims!

She is standing up for our farmers and farmland, and responding to the outrageous and offensive comments from the MLA for Abbotsford-West, Mike de Jong. Comparing support for our farmers to some of the darkest chapters in Canadian history trivializes hard fought human rights battles.

Unfortunately this is just one of the ways BC Liberals are misrepresenting my work to support farmers and protect farmland.

Details on Bill 15 here - bit.ly/2GjaWFd
The longer version of Minister Sims response is here - bit.ly/2G5NPNl
Read the full transcript of this ongoing debate - bit.ly/2PeNADT
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4 months ago

Richmond FarmWatch

Show your selfie! #isupportbill15Organic farmer Nicholas Forstbauer loves the ALR! #farmers4Bill15 #isupportBill15 #ALR #BCpoli ...

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4 months ago

Richmond FarmWatch

Please sharethis important post.I was pleased to stand in the Legislature today and move second reading for Bill 15!

One of my most important mandate letter commitments was to revitalize the ALR and the ALC. This commitment is so important because we have a lot to be proud of in BC. we have one of the most diverse agriculture sectors in Canada with 17,500 farms producing over 200 agricultural products, producing $14.2 billion annually to drive prosperity across BC.

But to support farmers, we need to protect farmland. Farmers need access to affordable and productive agricultural land to be successful, provide us with the food we count on for our tables and create good jobs for people in their communities.

Over 40 years ago, the government of the day had the foresight to identify our province’s most valuable and viable agricultural land, and to protect it within the Agricultural Land Reserve. This reserve is critically important because of how little farmland we have. In BC only a very small part of the land-base is arable, and less than one percent is rated as class one (ie., having the ability to support intensive cultivation of a wide variety of crops.) Protecting the ALR is critical so that farmers and ranchers can thrive today, and in the future – and so that we can have a reliable source of food produced within our province for generations to come.

The amendments proposed in Bill 15 draw on the work of the BC Minister of Agriculture’s Advisory Committee for Revitalizing the Agricultural Land Reserve and the Agricultural Land Commission. This Committee led a comprehensive engagement process, travelling to nine communities to meet with local governments, the agriculture sector and other key stakeholders, and received about 2,600 written and online submissions. The engagement showed overwhelmingly that British Columbians and key agricultural stakeholders value the ALR and care about preserving it for agriculture use now and for future generations.

And we listened to what BCers told us.

The first phase of amendments to the Agricultural Land Commission Act were brought to this House through Bill 52 in the fall, and came into law a few weeks ago on February 22. Bill 52 addresses many issues that were contributing to an erosion of our precious land base. Amendments included:
o Implementing a maximum house size of 500M2 in the ALR to curb the proliferation of mega homes and land speculation, but still ensuring that growing farming families that need a larger house to support their farming operations have a path forward at the ALC with local government support to build a larger home;

o Grandfathering in landowners with all authorizations in place when the bill came into force (February 22, 2019) if substantial construction is underway by November 5, 2019;
o Requiring ALC approval of an additional residence on a parcel in the ALR, to limit non-farm use and development;
o Introducing clear rules to prevent construction and demolition waste and other harmful materials from being dumped onto productive ALR soil as fill with clear oversight by the ALC;
o Reuniting the ALR as one cohesive zone, making it clear that all ALR land has equal protection; and
o Strengthening the ALC’s compliance and enforcement powers, including adding new offences for illegal dumping with substantial penalties.

Bill 15 builds on the comprehensive and significant changes accomplished through Bill 52 through five key changes:
• The first is to strengthen the independence of the commission by replacing the current ALC governance model of an Executive Committee and six regional panels with one commission with regional representation by requiring membership from all six administrative regions.
• The second change will provide the Chair of the commission with more flexibility to organize its members into a decision-making panel on applications by topic, technical expertise or by administrative region.
• Thirdly, this Bill creates new decision-making criteria that prioritizes the protection and enhancement of the size, integrity and continuity of the land base when the commission is considering exercising any power or performing a duty under the Agricultural Land Commission Act.
• Fourthly, we are adding more compliance and enforcement capacity and tools, including a new offence for landowners who do not produce records to the Agricultural Land Commission when ordered.
• And finally, the new Bill will require that exclusion applications be submitted to the commission by local governments, First Nations governments or the Province.

Together these five changes will help give the Agricultural Land Commission the tools they need to support their work to protect farmland and support farmers. Our government is committed to supporting BC’s incredible agricultural sector, so it can continue to grow and prosper, and provide our ranchers and farmers with good jobs in communities across the province.
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5 months ago

Richmond FarmWatch

Will you support Liberal MLAs who continue to work against the protection of the ALR?

Please like and share this post to reinforce the message that the ALR is top of mind for British Columbians.Amazing to find the BC Liberals promising to repeal Bill 52 which restricts the building of mansions on farmland while allowing farmers who need large houses for farming to get a variance. One would think the Richmond Liberal MLAs got the message in the recent municipal election that Richmond voters are fed up with farms being sold to foreign speculators who build mansions and take the farms out of production.

With the exception of Linda Reid who didn't vote, the Richmond Liberal MLAs voted against Bill 52. Jas Johal has gone further to become a leading vocal opponent. They should be ashamed of themselves.
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