The chair of the Agricultural Land Commission strongly advised the British Columbia government against the major changes the province is making to how the province's farm land is protected.
Not everyone appreciates that "each and every region of British Columbia has prime agricultural land based on agricultural capability classifications and agriculturally suitable lands for specialty crops, forage, extensive agricultural uses and non-soil bound agricultural endeavors," he wrote.
He included a table that showed the proposed zone 1, which includes the South Coast, Island and Okanagan regions, has 335,000 hectares of land in classes one to four. The proposed zone 2, for comparison, would include 2,072,000 hectares of such land.
"This data shows that it is not correct to suggest that the Kootenays, the North and the Interior possess, as regions, lesser agricultural lands," Bullock wrote.
"In reality, the large majority of good agricultural lands in British Columbia are in these regions," he said. "Such lands, properly irrigated and farmed pursuant to Government policies that encourage farming and farmers, can be a legacy to future generations and an important resource to British Columbia's food and agricultural security."
Bullock criticized the proposal to appoint regional panels to make decisions.
"I realize there are some who take the view that the ALC would make 'better' decisions if fully 'regionalized' panels made the decision for a particular region," he wrote.
"The difficulty I have found with those taking this view, which in my experience is a small but vocal minority, is that they usually equate 'better' decision-making with decisions removing land from the ALR," he said. "I have not yet heard it argued that regional panels are necessary to better preserve agricultural land."
"It's obvious the government was hell bent on one way to go and they haven't deviated from that despite the fact they pretend to consult and they pretend to listen," said Nicholas Simons, the NDP's agriculture critic. Bennett seems to have long had a goal of dismantling the ALR and has stymied opportunities for consultation, Simons said. "This is bad legislation led by one guy with a fixation."