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The Slaughter of the ALR

The Agricultural Land Reserve is a subject that deserves way more attention in BC than it currently receives. Maybe it’s because agricultural land just isn’t a hot topic to most people who are more interested in seeing their house prices keep going up and wondering what gadget to next spend their hard earned cash on.

However, a landmark decision is about to be made regarding some of the ALR land in Richmond that has the potential to change to way ALR lands in Urban Areas are dealt with in the future.

This Monday, almost two years to the day after rejecting it for the first time, an Agricultural Land Commission panel convened to re-evaluate whether this 55-hectare parcel of land in the heart of Richmond should be removed from the ALR and slated for development.

Land ruling could be a tipping point

And by the way, as far as I can tell, the Land Commission’s decision is final – there is no opportunity for appeal.

[ad#125-right]It is interesting that this decision is coming at a time when food scarcity is more than a hypothetical scenario, and the price and gas, and getting food from the Southern States to Canada is at an all time high, and not likely to decrease anytime soon.

Rather than developing ALR, government efforts should be dedicated to finding the best long term use for al of these discrete ALR parcels scattered around the province. In many cases, farming is a viable option on this land, and should not be discounted due to the current increased pressure for lands dedicated to residential development.

The big picture here is that if these lands are developed, the opportunity for ever using them for farming in the future is almost zero. During development, all topsoil is removed, trees are cut down and burnt in big slash piles, and huge amounts of earth are moved to install utilities, roads and eventually houses. The wholesale transformation of viable food-producing lands into Prozac’d suburban sprawl and coma-inducing Cul de Sacs is short-sighted, greedy, and may one day be regarded as a criminal act against the environment and humanity.

The Local Action Website – Garden City Lands Coalition is here.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.