Message from the Minister and
As the minister responsible for the Agricultural Land Commission, I am pleased to present the
2005/06 – 2007/08 Updated Service Plan for the Agricultural Land Commission.
BC's fertile lands yield some of the world's highest quality agricultural and food products. We produce a greater variety of agricultural products over a wider range of geographical and climatic conditions than any other area in Canada.
That is why BC has preserved five per cent of our entire land base — our best agricultural lands — for food production within the Agricultural Land Reserve. The ALR currently covers approximately 4.7 million hectares that include private and public lands. Land is added to the ALR as well as excluded, and since 2001, the Agricultural Land Reserve has been larger than at any time in its existence since 1974.
The Agricultural Land Commission administers the ALR as an independent, arms'-length Crown agency. Although the Chair reports to me, the Commission operates independently within the framework of the Agricultural Land Commission Act.
Its 19 members are entrusted by the government to preserve agricultural land, to encourage and enable farm businesses throughout British Columbia and to consider community interests.
The six-panel regional structure that our government established in 2002 is clearly balancing provincial interest with community needs in a regionally responsive manner.
It provides greater regional presence, more awareness of local issues by Commissioners and lets them meet more often with local governments, applicants and other stakeholders. Having local people on local panels raises the profile of agriculture locally and increases knowledge of its economic and social contributions.
I expect the panels to continue to contribute to their communities by continuing to make balanced decisions to preserve agricultural land, decisions that will contribute to the government's goal to lead the world in sustainable environmental management.
In the coming year, the Commission will continue to work cooperatively with local governments, communities and farmers to preserve our farmland and encourage farming while considering community interests.
The Agricultural Land Commission 2005/06 – 2007/08 Service Plan Update September 2005 was prepared under my direction in accordance with the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act. I am responsible for the basis on which the plan has been prepared. All material fiscal assumptions and policy decisions as of August 31, 2005 have been considered in preparing the plan and I am accountable for achieving the specific objectives in the plan.
Honourable Pat Bell
Minister of Agriculture and Lands
September 1, 2005