More time before ALR changes

Agricultural Land Reserve commissioner hopes to recommend changes by spring.

Although the applications for exclusion from the Agricultural Land Reserve keep flooding in, the commission’s chairman says they’ve reduced the flow and more changes are coming.

When Richard Bullock, a Kelowna orchardist, took over as chairman of the Agricultural Land Commission over a year ago, he immediately embarked on a review of the 40-year-old ALR.

Bullock admits it takes time, but hopes that by spring some recommended changes will be underway.

Digitizing material so that the business of the commission can be done online was one of the first issues. Once that’s done, he says people can around the province instead of having all staff working out of the Burnaby office. “There’s some amazing technology out there that we’ve missed,” he said.

Bullock says the commission must deal with all requests for ALR exclusion; however, as he meets with local governments around the province he has been encouraged by the changing attitudes toward the ALR.

“There’s a change in thinking, with the younger generation of politicians more positive and more accepting of the ALR,” he said. “I think people are willing to accept that it’s here to stay. It won’t happen overnight, but changes in attitude are needed.”

Agricultural advisory committees, such as Kelowna and West Kelowna have, are being encouraged but, he said: “I can’t tell local groups what to do.”

One thing that has surprised him is the attitude toward local produce. Nelson, for instance, shuts down its main street on Wednesdays for farmers’ market.

The ALC has made recommendations to the agriculture ministry regarding user fees. Bullock said the ministry is still reviewing the comments and feedback on possible fee structure changes and hasn’t made a decision yet.