Speak out against Bill 24 and help save the Agricultural Land Reserve

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For decades the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and the protection it provides for agricultural land and local food production has been a point of pride for British Columbians. With the B.C. IMG_0627Liberal government’s proposed changes to the ALR, B.C. is at risk of losing valuable agricultural land in the Province’s interior.

The proposed changes would divide the ALR and create two zones. This two-zone system will make it much easier to use farmland for resource extraction and development. At a time of record drought in California and climate change around the globe it is more important than ever that our agricultural land be protected.

British Columbians were given a glimmer of hope when the newly-named Agriculture Minister, Norm Letnick, appeared to open the door to public consultations, even suggesting that “everything (is open) from amending the bill to leaving it alone to removing the bill.” Premier Christy Clark and Core Review Minister Bill Bennett quickly shot down that idea.

On April 24th, George brought the community together for a panel discussion with local food activists Trish Kelly and Nicholas Scapillati, both members of Vancouver’s Food Policy Council to discuss the proposed changes as well as local food production in B.C. The well-attended meeting highlighted how important this issue is for both rural and urban British Columbians.

Organizations such as the BC Food Systems Network and the National Farmers Union have called for a delay of the passage of Bill 24 in favour of further consultations. The BC Agriculture Council Chairman said last week that “BCAC cautiously supported the legislation when it was tabled, based on verbal information, based on video conference calls with the minister and the draft press release. After reviewing the actual legislation, and hearing farmers’ and ranchers’ concerns, BCAC had no choice but to withdraw its support.”

That’s why it is so important that you write to the BC Agriculture Council and show them you support their call for the withdrawal of Bill 24. It is vital that they see how many farmers and consumers around British Columbia support them. Encourage your friends, your family, and supporters of our local food systems to write to the Council. Share this newsletter and share the BCAC’s contact information on social media. Do whatever you can to stop this destruction of our agricultural land because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

You can contact the BC Agriculture Council by e-mail at bcac@bcac.bc.ca

The new Agriculture Minister has said he is reading the “thousands of emails” he’s been receiving. Let’s make sure he hears from everyone. You can reach him by email at norm.letnick.mla@leg.bc.ca and AGR.Minister@gov.bc.ca or phone his office at (250) 387-1023

We also encourage you to get in touch with our office and share your stories and experiences around local food production and the ALR. Write to us at george.heyman.mla@leg.bc.ca