How can farmland in Richmond and across the province be protected and more farming be encouraged?
Those are the questions that the provincial government is asking in a series of public engagements between now and the end of October – with the closest in Delta on Tuesday, Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn at 1665 56th Street.
About 39 per cent of Richmond is in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), and there are 189 farms and 265 farm operators.
The province wants to hear from British Columbians how farmers and ranchers in the ALR can be supported to help expand their businesses.
The province will also be speaking to farmers about how to create opportunities for property owners to have the type of housing they want while still protecting the ALR’s primary function as farming land, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, and that the provincial government also wants to use these engagement sessions to help clarify any confusion about how the ALR, and housing on the ALR, is managed.
“Helping farmers, protecting farmland and increasing food production are top priorities for our government, and we want to continue the momentum we've created — it's driving the success of this sector in our province,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture in a press release.
The ALR was established in 1973 to help curb the loss of farmland to residential and commercial development. Currently, the ALR comprises over 46,000 square kilometres of B.C. or about five per cent of the province’s total land base.
The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) oversees the ALR. The current public engagement session follows consultation by the ALR Revitalization Committee in 2018, which published its final report online.
Farmers in Richmond and across the province are facing increased uncertainty due to climate change and rising land prices. Some also face pressure to use their land for non-farming activities.
“A healthy agriculture industry is critical to protecting a farmer’s most valuable resource — their land, now and for generations to come,” said ALC chair Jennifer Dyson in the release.
There will be six public feedback meetings held across the province:
- Vancouver Island: Sept. 19
- Delta: Oct. 1
- Dawson Creek: Oct. 2
- Prince George: Oct. 3
- Kelowna: Oct. 10
- Castlegar: Oct. 30
If you aren’t able to attend one of these meetings, you can also fill out the online feedback form at Engage.gov.bc.ca/SupportingFarmers