(Black Press Media file photo)

‘Besieged’ B.C. farmland needs protection from oil and gas sector: report

Agriculture Ministry released final report that makes 32 recommendations

An independent report on agricultural revitalization in British Columbia is calling for a task force to address the “imbalance” between oil and gas development and agriculture in the province’s northeast.

The Agriculture Ministry released the final report today that makes 32 recommendations related to the province’s Agricultural Land Commission and Reserve.

It calls for the proposed task force to review how to balance the surface rights of farmers and ranchers with subsurface rights of the extractors, and to deliver a strategy to address “the significant resource extraction issues” affecting farmland in the Peace Region.

In a letter introducing the report, committee chair and former Independent MLA Vicki Huntington calls for a government-wide policy shift that identifies B.C.’s agricultural land and industry as equivalent to other natural resources.

READ MORE: Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Huntington says the oil and gas industry has had a significant and growing impact in the northeast and the development of the energy sector has exceeded the capacity of the current regulatory environment to protect farmland.

The report recommends the Energy and Agriculture ministries, the Agricultural Land Commission and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission work together to develop a healthier relationship that respects not only the energy industry, but also the “increasingly besieged agriculture industry.”

“Surface and subsurface infrastructure expansion is progressing exponentially and activities that were once temporary have become permanent industrial sites built on farmland and next to farm communities,” the letter says.

“The cumulative impact is making it increasingly difficult for many farmers and ranchers to effectively use their land.”

The proposed task force should review how farmers and ranchers might be given authority to influence negotiations on the location of oil and gas facilities and infrastructure, and complete an impact assessment of all oil and gas activity within the ALR, the report says.

Other recommendations include consideration of directing a portion of royalties from oil and gas development in the ALR to a regional agricultural development fund and creating an agreement between the ALC and Oil and Gas Commission for sharing impact assessments and other information.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham says in a statement the government has already acted on 13 recommendations released in an interim report, including passing laws aimed at keeping farmland affordable and cracking down on illegal dumping.

“I want to thank the committee for its dedication and the thoughtful recommendations made in this report,” said the statement says.

“Our government is committed to helping farmers farm. We asked the committee members to provide advice on how the ALR and ALC can provide the best support for farmers, ranchers and producers to ensure B.C.’s agricultural sector continues to thrive, and they delivered.”

The committee commissioned to complete the report consists of eight British Columbians with diverse agricultural backgrounds and experience.

More than 2,300 British Columbians responded to the committee’s online discussion paper and survey, and the committee also received over 270 written submissions.

The committee held engagement sessions with local governments and agricultural stakeholders in nine communities throughout the province and met with the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the ALC.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As SD84 schools look to reopen, Kyuquot and Zeballos opt out

Schools in Tahsis and Gold River will open on June 1, with 30 per cent students expected to come in

RCMP calls decrease in Campbell River

Total for year up compared to 2019

Campbell River RCMP ask drivers to slow down in construction zones

Highlight lower speed through the Hwy. 19A project

Recycling depots in Campbell River, Courtenay to close

The unstaffed recyling depot at Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex is set to close July 1

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Mirror business directory and map

If you’d like to be added to the list, shoot us an email

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

Most Read