Part Two: ALR changes bring more opportunities to northern farmers, MLA says

Earlier this week, we began a series of stories with Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm on the government changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve, which began back in 2013 under his watch as agriculture minister.

Our first report took us through much of the legislative planning stage, which Mr. Pimm says clearly identified the need for a dual approach to accommodate the year-round farmers in the Okanagan, Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island — in addition to those elsewhere, where the majority is forced to supplement income due to a short farming season.

That took us to the time of local MLA’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent cabinet resignation to allow for successful treatment.

We move forward to the changes engineered under his ministerial successor, Norm Letnick, and we focus on the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, or Bill 24 which set up two zones in the province, with the Peace included in zone two, also referred to as the Northern Zone.

“I’m satisfied that the legislation is pretty good,” said Pimm.

“One of the biggest changes in zone two was that you have to now look at a socio-economic evaluation of the land as you make your land decisions. As the ALC is making their decisions they have to look at a socio-economic piece. If you wanted to go in and look at the legislation to get the exact wording it’s under section four of the new act.

Pimm continued: “There’s an extra added piece that the ALC directors have to look at as they’re making land decisions now. That certainly adds a little more opportunity for the folks in zone two. The other big change that we made is we put three panellists in place for each zone. You now have local panelists making local land decisions.”

However, Mr. Pimm is much less enthusiastic about associated cabinet approved regulatory changes.

That’s covered in part three on Monday.

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