This year’s changes to the province’s Agricultural Land Reserve continue to generate province wide debate and today we begin a series of stories not only examining what those changes are, but also the government objectives and regulations associated with them.
To do that, we’ll talk with Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm, who was appointed Agricultural Minister, in June of 2013, following the Liberals provincial election victory.
He confirms that making sure the Agricultural Land Commission, the ALR governing body, works for all British Columbians, was key part of his mandate letter from the Premier.
“I took a look at things and found out very quickly that there were differing opinions on ALR lands throughout the province,” he said.
“In the areas where your land is covered by snow for six months of the year, you have about 90 per cent of the farming families working off the land so they can make enough money to carry on and to farm during the year.
“When you’re in the other areas of the province, where there isn’t snow, you’re actually farming your land all year or pretty much,” Pimm continued.
“That’s when we realized that there’s was going to have to be two different zones because there was two very different opinions. In zone one which is the Island, and the Lower Mainland, and the Okanagan, you have about 85 per cent of your total farm receipts come from zone one.
“In zone two you have about 15 per cent of your total receipts but you have about 90 per cent of your ALR lands. I wanted to also make sure that farming was more viable for all British Columbians. I wanted to keep more farming families on the farm because we’re seeing a rapid decline in farming families, and the other thing is that we wanted to preserve the best agricultural land for future generations to come. Those were the four things I had as a goal to accomplish.”
Unfortunately just about the time the legislation was ready for presentation, Mr. Pimm was diagnosed with cancer and to facilitate what turned out to be his successful treatment, he was forced to resign from cabinet.
What followed was passage of the ALR changes in the legislature and an associated package of regulations by the cabinet.