The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture kicked off more than a month of public meetings on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, to hear how people want to encourage farming and protect farmland. (Pixabay photo)

How do you think B.C. should protect its farmland?

Ministry of Agriculture hosting community meetings with the Agricultural Land Commission

The province kicked off more than a month of public meetings on Thursday to hear how people want to encourage farming and protect farmland.

Ronna-Rae Leonard, the MLA for Courtenay-Comox who chairs the select standing committee on agriculture, fish and food, will host the first meeting with the Agricultural Land Commission on Sept. 19, in Merville on Vancouver Island.

The Ministry of Agriculture will also host five other sessions, with the commission, in Delta (Oct. 1), Dawson Creek (Oct. 2), Prince George (Oct. 3), Kelowna (Oct. 10) and Castlegar (Oct. 30).

According to a news release, the meetings will discuss recent government changes meant to strengthen the commission and the Agricultural Land Reserve.

READ MORE: B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Attendees are also encouraged to talk about how to support farmers and ranchers to expand and diversify their business, to help new or young farmers become established, and to ensure flexibility for residential options.

Regulations came into force on Feb. 22 to address mega-mansions and property speculation by limiting primary residence size on ALR lands, and allowing the commission to approve additional residences if they are for farm use.

Amendments also replaced six panel regions and an executive committee for the ALR with one commission, and restricted the removal of soil and increased penalties for the dumping of construction debris as well as other harmful fill.

People can provide feedback online at engage.gov.bc.ca/supportingfarmers/ until Nov. 15. A report will then be prepared and made public.

READ MORE: Ag minister defends agricultural land commission amendments



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

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