Adam Olsen, interim leader of the BC Green Party, warns that the BC Liberals are changing the rules of the game for the Agricultural Land Commission.
Last month B.C. Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm responded to Olsen’s Nov. 14, 2013 letter to Premier Christy Clark regarding the core review and the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).
Olsen is troubled by the minister’s response. Pimm wrote, “Participation in the Core Review will not undermine the core mandate of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) which is to protect the province’s most productive (italics added) farmland.”
Olsen maintains the addition of “most productive” to this sentence is a game-changer. “By adding these words, the ministry changes the mandate of the ALC, which has never been to protect the most productive farmland,” Olsen claims.
It appears in the case of the ALC, this current core review is not about the best interests of agriculture; rather it is about freeing thousands of hectares of agricultural land from the ALC, opening once preserved lands to non-agricultural development opportunities, especially natural gas development.
Articles in the Globe and Mail by Mark Hume have outlined a government plan to move the ALC from being an independent body into ministry control and to divide it into two zones.
The government has tried to prevent the ALC from fulfilling its’ mandate in question of the proposed Site C dam as well. If the Site C dam goes ahead, about 3,000 hectares of farmland will be inundated by a reservoir.
The movement to protect farmland has been picking up momentum since November when leaked cabinet documents surfaced proposing to restrain the Agricultural Land Commission and give more power over farmland to the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission.