B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver once again introduced a bill Friday that would ban foreign ownership on Agricultural Land Reserve land over five acres.
“B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve is vital for promoting our province’s food security and growing our agricultural sector,” said Weaver in a party news release.
“B.C. currently imports 70 per cent of its vegetables from the United States, with half of that coming from California. With these regions increasingly experiencing extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, it is more important than ever that B.C. take the future of our food security seriously. Moreover, agriculture presents a significant economic opportunity for B.C. Our thriving wine industry alone has a $2.8 billion economic impact, generating 12,000 jobs throughout the province,” he said.
One of the key reasons why young people are unable to pursue farming is due to the cost of land, he added, blaming real estate speculation.
Weaver also said Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec and PEI have all passed similar legislation to protect their agricultural land.
Weaver first introduced such a bill for B.C. in February 2016.
In a recent interview with the Optimist, B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said an erosion of the ALR over the last 16 years has led to the implied idea by speculators the reserve is a land bank for other purposes.
“As I was saying publicly since I became minister, I expect the Agricultural Land Commission to uphold the mandate to protect agricultural land and encourage farming, and that the Agricultural Land Reserve is not a land bank for industry or housing development. It is a land bank for food production.”
Delta South MLA Ian Paton, the Liberals’ co-agricultural critic, said if there a problem, a foreign buyers tax could be considered, but, as far as he knows, most farms in Delta are either owned and actively farmed by local farmers or owned by someone living here who’s renting the acreage to farmers.
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