Agricultural Land Reserve


Agricultural Land Reserve

The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a collection of land in the Canadian province of British Columbia in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use. Farming is encouraged and non-agricultural uses are controlled. In total, the ALR covers approximately convert|47000|km2 and includes private and public lands that may be farmed, forested or are vacant. Some ALR blocks cover thousands of hectares while others are small pockets of only a few hectares. The reserve is administered by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), consisting of a chair and six vice-chairs appointed by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council of British Columbia and twelve regular commissioners appointed by the provincial Minister of Agriculture and Lands.

The ALR was established by the British Columbia New Democratic Party government of Dave Barrett in 1973, and has been controversial since its inception. It was intended to protect valuable agricultural land that has among the most fertile soil in the country from being developed. Despite having been in existence for over 30 years, however, the ALR continues to be threatened by urbanization.

Critics of ALR policy claim that ALR restrictions have caused land prices — especially in British Columbia's rapidly growing Lower Mainland region — to artificially inflate (the region is hemmed in by the ocean, mountains, and the US border, limiting available land supply). The claim is also made that owners of land in the ALR are not sufficiently compensated for their property, and that the ALR constitutes unreasonable interference in private property rights. Critics also maintain that in densely populated areas, agricultural land exists mainly as tiny several-acre plots that barely meet the minimum lot size for ALR regulations, destroying the economy of scale of large scale farming.

Defenders of ALR policy respond that the province has little arable land, especially of such productivity as exists on the Fraser River delta around Vancouver, and that the ALR protects British Columbia's important agriculture sector. They also suggest that a large part of the Lower Mainland's development pressure comes from the lack of a unified land use and transportation plan for the Greater Vancouver Regional District, and the failure of municipalities to replace sprawl with density. Finally, they claim that the ALR is a reasonable extension of the government's right to zone land for various uses. Defenders of the ALR have been distressed in recent years at what they see as the weakening of the policy, by the designation of golf courses as "agricultural land" and the removal of ALR-protected lands for residential, commercial, and industrial development.

ee also

* Prime farmland
* Greenbelt (Golden Horseshoe) a similar reserve in Ontario

External links

* [http://www.alc.gov.bc.ca/ Website of the Agricultural Land Commission] .
* [http://www.alc.gov.bc.ca/Legislation/Act/alca.htm The "Agricultural Land Commission Act", the enabling legislation of the ALC and the ALR]
* [http://www.bcac.bc.ca/Presentations_Detail.asp?ID=35 British Columbia Agriculture Council position on the ALR]
* [http://www.smartgrowth.bc.ca/Default.aspx?tabid=111 SmartGrowthBC]


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