Agricultural Land Commission chair and CEO Richard Bullock (left) has been fired as Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick implements the BC Liberals' overhaul of farmland regulation.

B.C. axes Agricultural Land Reserve boss

Richard Bullock refused to appoint regional panel members, replaced by former Saanich mayor Frank Leonard

The B.C. government has “released” Agricultural Land Commission board chair and CEO Richard Bullock, and will pay out his five-year contract until it ends in November, Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick said Thursday.

Bullock will be replaced effective immediately by long-time Saanich mayor Frank Leonard, who was voted out after nearly 20 years in last fall’s civic elections.

Letnick said with new regulations taking effect to manage the Agricultural Land Reserve with two zones, it was time to make a change and let Leonard and the board choose a new CEO.

The B.C. government has been at odds with Bullock since early in his five-year term, when he stopped appointing commissioners to six regional panels around the province.

Energy Minister Bill Bennett, who pushed through the two-zone system under the auspices of his “core review” of government services, said a year ago that Bullock found the regional panels to be “a pain in the ass” and preferred to run the commission from its head office in Burnaby. So the government mandated regional appointments in legislation along with the two-zone concept.

Leonard takes over as the ALC deals with a vast Interior “zone two” with relaxed rules for second residences and non-farm activities. Commissioners are also expected to deal with applications by a British manufacturing giant buying B.C. Interior farms to turn back to forest for European Union carbon credits.

Letnick said the regional panels are up and running, and he doesn’t expect the change at the top to cause delays in making decisions on farmland use or exclusion.