Farmers across the province are up in arms over proposed changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), laid out in Bill 24. These changes would divide agricultural lands into two zones, facilitating development on 90% of agricultural reserve lands - including the entire Kootenay region - for non-agricultural uses, like industrial development, subdividing land and energy developments. Protection of our food producing lands is critical to ensure British Columbia’s food security.
Please take action and tell the BC government to kill Bill 24 and protect farmland and farmers in British Columbia.
There has been no public consultation on proposed changes to the ALR. This week, after weeks of mounting opposition across the province to Bill 24, Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick announced a province-wide consultation.
In a stunning about-face, this morning Minister Bennett countered that announcement, saying that although a public consultation will take place, it would not result in any substantive changes to Bill 24. Announcing the pre-determined outcome of a public consulation before it has begun flies in the face of the democratic process. It's more important than ever to stand up for the ALR.
What are farmers saying?
Kootenay farmers have been vocal in opposing these changes. Rallying against the claim from Minister Bill Bennett’s response to eating local in the Kootenays - “where I come from, you'd have to eat hay" - Erin Harris (Kootenay Meadows Dairy Farm, Lister) and Oliver Egan (Edible Acres Farm, Windermere) took a message to Victoria on behalf of Kootenay farmers, opposing Bill 24 and displaying a cornucopia of Kootenay-produced products.
This week, the BC Agriculture Council reversed its position, publicly opposing Bill 24.
Soil experts have publicly opposed Bill 24 and former Minister of the Environment Joan Sawiki calls it short-sighted, saying it would significantly weaken "the most successful agricultural land preservation program in North America”.
The high quality of agricultural lands in the Kootenay region was recently re-emphasized by the Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission: “the majority of prime agricultural lands are situated in the Interior, Kootenay and North regions”.
Thank you for standing up for BC's farmland and farmers!
The Wildsight Team