OUR VIEW: Not enough consultation on ALR changes

We say: Are we ready to roll the dice on food security?

Changing with the times can be a good thing.

But, the debate surrounding the B.C. Liberal government’s plans to amend the Agricultural Land Reserve, indicates this change is meeting with some opposition.

The ALR covers about 4.7 million hectares, or about three per cent of the provincial land base.

Given the changes are targeted especially to lands in Zone 2, anything outside of the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan and Vancouver Island, then the regulations apply to much less than three per cent of B.C.’s land base.

Bill Bennett, minister for core review, has offered up some explanations, but they seem too facile, and leave other questions unanswered.

Why did the government not consult with farmers? Why is the government wanting to especially loosen the restrictions on how ALR land in Zone 2 can be used?

Why is the government wanting a piece of such a small pie?

Scientists from B.C.’s universities are against the changes for a variety of reasons. But why listen to them?  Remember the cod fishery?  Exactly.

Between 1976, when the ALR was introduced, and 2011, the population of British Columbia jumped a whopping 84 per cent, to about 4.6 million from 2.5 million. Over that same time period the amount of land in the ALR remained essentially the same. Almost double the number of mouths to feed, but the same amount of land.

Climate change is already lapping on our shores, exactly what that will do to food production around the world is unknown.

Are we really ready to roll the dice on food security? Changing the rules to allow alternative uses on ALR land just doesn’t add up, unless we are missing a part of the equation.

– Black Press