Don’t even think about low-cost housing on ALR

Sandor Gyarmati - Delta Optimist

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A 2013 Metro Vancouver survey found 28 per cent of farmland in Richmond, Delta, Langley, Surrey and Barnston Island was identified as not being in agriculture production, even though it had the potential for farming

Most British Columbians don’t want to see any development on Agricultural Land Reserve.

That’s according to a study funded by the Real Estate Foundation of B.C. and the Vancouver Foundation, which found that 95 per cent of respondents to a province-wide poll think the ALR should be preserved for growing food and green space. Eighty per cent of British Columbians are concerned about our dependence on other countries for our food security, while 73 per cent think the ALR is a cornerstone of food security and the B.C. economy, the study found.

“Local, sustainable food systems are a priority issue for the Foundation because of the link between food security and community well-being,” said Jack Wong, CEO of the Real Estate Foundation of B.C.

“With challenges such as development pressure on agricultural land and changing weather patterns, it is of vital importance to have forward-thinking policies that protect land for growing food, now and for future generations.”

The two organizations note they commissioned the study to inform discussion and decisions on the future of the ALR.

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“The study demonstrates British Columbians believe strongly in safeguarding our farms and green spaces to ensure long-term health, well-being and resilience in our communities,” said Kevin McCort, CEO of Vancouver Foundation.

When the ALR was introduced in 1973, Delta New Democrat MLA Carl Liden explained it was necessary because speculators owned most of the farmland in Delta. He said the government was helping the farmer with the legislation because “this bill will keep farmland prices down to where farmers can afford to buy farmland for farming. It will stop farmers from leaving their lands.”

A 2013 Metro Vancouver survey found 28 per cent of farmland in Richmond, Delta, Langley, Surrey and Barnston Island was identified as not being in agriculture production, even though it had the potential for farming. That survey also concluded the situation will not change “without some significant intervention.”

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver last month introduced a bill once again that would ban foreign ownership on Agricultural Land Reserve land over five acres.

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