Last fall, there were public meetings held with residents of Areas E and B to discuss an Agricultural Land Commission boundary review Some landowners had received letters stating that their land would be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve, others had not.
There was concern expressed by residents on both circumstances. One of the primary areas of concern was that having a property removed from the ALR would mean higher taxes. For those on a fixed income or pension, this was troublesome.
At the time, both Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald and Kootenay East MLA and Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett said that their constituents had expressed concern on the process.
This spring, the Ministry of Agriculture is proposing an amendment to the Agriculture Land Commission Act (ALCA). The amendment will support the preservation of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) by requiring the ALC to obtain the owner’s consent before excluding land from the reserve in situations when the application is not from the landowner, such as when the ALC is conducting a boundary review.
The amendment was introduced Monday in the Legislature and Macdonald says he is pleased to see it.
“It requires property owners to agree to having their land taken out of the ALR. It can’t be arbitrarily removed,” he said. “It’s what people were asking for.”
However, nothing has changed with the process for those wanting their land out of the ALR. That remains the same.
Still, Macdonald says it’s a good thing.
“It hasn’t passed yet, it was just introduced but it will pass this session. I’m really pleased they’ve acted as quickly as they have.”
Bennett says that the Agriculture Minister was acting on his advice, as arbitrary removal from the ALR was one of the chief concerns he heard last fall.
“The boundary reviews are worth doing but it is grossly unfair to force someone out if they don’t want out,” he said. “Perhaps finally Norm and I agree on something!”