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New legislation has BC cracking down on farmland mega-mansions

A new B.C. legislation that was introduced on Monday is looking to make it clear that land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is used for farming and ranching, not dumping construction waste or building mega-mansions.

If passed, Bill 52, the agricultural land commission act, will strengthen protections for B.C.'s Agricultural Land Reserve.

<who> Photo Credit: File Photo </who>

"The old government let wealthy speculators drive the price of farmland out of reach for young farmers and allowed some of our most valuable agricultural land to be damaged," said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. "We are protecting farmland in B.C. to ensure land is available now and for future generations of farmers, so people in British Columbia have a safe, secure supply of locally grown food on their tables for years to come."

The proposed legislation would aim to make three key changes seen below:

  • Restoring the integrity of the ALR by reinstating one zone for all ALR land in B.C., making it clear that all land in the ALR benefits from the same strong protections.
  • Addressing mega-mansions and speculation in the ALR by limiting new house sizes to less than 500 square metres [about 5,400 square feet], except through application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) in cases where it would support farming; and requiring an ALC approval of any additional residences in the ALR to curb non-farm development.
  • Cracking down on the dumping of construction debris, toxic waste and other fill in the ALR that can irreparably damage arable soil on valuable farmland, through increased penalties.

The legislative changes could help stop damaging practices that contaminate farmland and make farms unaffordable for new farmers. The legislation is designed to protect the province's farmland so British Columbians can access locally grown food, and communities and local economies can prosper through farming, ranching and agriculture businesses, such as B.C.'s growing food-processing sector.

The bill is part of the government's ongoing commitment to revitalize the ALR and the ALC. The new legislation will advance several recommendations in the independent report released by the Minister of Agriculture's Advisory Committee

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