(Save Penticton's Agricultural Land from Division and Extinction)
SPADE spearheaded a petition campaign in opposition to Penticton city council's application to develop a softball complex on Agriculatural Land Reserve near Munson Mountain. They argued that agriculture should be supported and embraced by the province, which has the power to deny applications for non-farm use of ALR lands, and the municipality, who could seek alternative locations for the sports fields.
SPADE’s view was compelling. They noted the land in question's very high potential for productive farming, and that the regional agricultural economy has a proven record of economic viability and success. As well as creating direct jobs and revenue for the Okanagan, agriculture is an amenity that attracts tourists, enhances the landscape and creates a buffer to expanding urban areas.
The Okanagan Valley is known for its rich agricultural heritage. Soils and climate in the region create ideal growing conditions for a variety of crops; orchards and vineyards surrounding growing towns and cities characterize the scenic semi-arid landscape. Penticton, an attractive regional centre, enjoys the fruits of economic development and of its valuable farmland. Its reputation as wine country is established while its desirability as a community continues to draw attention.
Non-farm use of the land in question would be incompatible with adjacent farming and could create conflicts as a result. SPADE argued that permission for activities other than agriculture undermines the integrity of the ALR and has the potential to affect the health of the local farm economy by encouraging speculative land purchases that artificially inflate the value of agricultural land.
Although the ALC decided to allow sports field development on two of the three properties, a referendum during the 2005 local government elections resulted in the development plans being shelved in favour of strong community support of the ALR. Congratulations S.P.A.D.E!
Farmland Protection Makes Cents
British Columbians have good reason to recognize our Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) as a tool for protecting our farmland, ensuring our future food supply, and providing over 200,000 jobs at BC’s 21,000 working farms and food processing industries.
But while our ALR generates over $2.2 billion in economic activity per year off only 5% of our province’s land base, and in spite of the fact that our farmlands provide over 50% of our provincial food needs, there are currently close to 4,000 acres of the best farmland in BC being considered for removal from the reserve for conversion to sprawling subdivisions and business parks. Once these lands are converted to urban uses, the farmland and open space that is cherished by British Columbians is gone forever.
Before we created our ALR, we were losing approximately 13,000 acres of farmland to urban development every year. Since its establishment and until recently our farmland loss had essentially stopped. But in spite of this success, the pressure on our ALR is increasing rapidly. A renewed commitment to its protection is not only essential to the future of the farming economy in BC, but also to protecting the livability and green space of communities across British Columbia.
To learn more about the role of the ALR in creating compact, complete communities in Greater Vancouver, please read "Sprawl and Smart Growth in Greater Vancouver". This report was jointly prepared with Northwest Environment Watch (now called Sightline Institute
) and compares growth patterns in the 1990s in Vancouver, BC and Seattle, WA.
The BC Agriculture Council has adopted an official policy outlining their support for the Agricultural Land Reserve. Download here.
Learn more about the BCAC.
Oliver Strategic Planning Session
Jodie Siu gave this presentation on estate residential in agricultural areas at the Rural Strategic Planning Session in Oliver, BC. Over 60 farmers, vintners, and rural residents gathered on September 5, 2003, to discuss the preservation of agricultural land, the relationship of the rural area with the Town of Oliver, and the need to plan effectively for agriculture through an Agricultural Area Plan and an Agriculture Advisory Committee.
(pdf – 1.2 MB)
Previous ALR Workshops:
Planning for Agriculture in the Pemberton Valley: Past, Present, and Future
Village of Pemberton, January 14th, 2006
Farmland Forever? Planning for Agriculture in the Lower Fraser Valley
Port Kells Centennial Hall, October 15th, 2005
Co-hosted by Smart Growth BC, FarmFolk/CityFolk, and the Fraser Valley Conservation Coalition
- Bob Bose, Councillor, City of Surrey moderated the event.
- Dave Sands, Retired Regional Director for the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands: Overview of BC agriculture in a global context, links to food security.
- Tony Pellett, Planner for the Agricultural Land Commission: The Agricultural Land Commission, its history, the Act, current panel structure, and the exclusion/sub-division application process.
- Kim Sutherland, Regional Agrologist and Karen Thomas, Land Use Agrologist: Strengthening Farming Program, agriculture in the Lower Fraser Valley, current land use and production rates, opportunities for expansion.
- Tom Lancaster, Community Assistance Program Coordinator for Smart Growth BC: Planning for smarter communities: the ALR as an urbanc containment boundary.
- Alyson Chisholm, Producer, Glen Valley Organic Farm Co-operative: Threats to the ALR: a food producer's perspective.