NEWS RELEASE · 7th September 2010
BC NDP Caucus
Auditor General’s report shows B.C. Liberals have put farmland at risk
A new report from the Auditor General shows how the B.C. Liberals are undermining the Agricultural Land Reserve and leaving B.C.’s valuable farmland at risk of being lost forever, say the New Democrats.
“As we face an increasing population and the impact of climate change, it is more important than ever to promote local food production and develop the green jobs that our agricultural sector has to offer,” said New Democrat agriculture critic Lana Popham.
“But instead of listening to British Columbians who are saying they want to see more local food in their grocery stores, this report shows the B.C. Liberals have been undermining the Agricultural Land Reserve.”
The report notes despite the fact that 95 per cent of British Columbians support the ALR, the amount of agricultural land in the ALR on the south coast has declined by eight per cent and the amount of agricultural land in the ALR on Vancouver Island has declined by 13 per cent since the reserve was created by the then-New Democrat government in 1973.
“Less than five per cent of British Columbia’s land base is suitable for agriculture, which is why we must protect the farmland we have, especially in the face of an increasing population and a changing climate,” said Popham. “British Columbians want access to fresh food from local farmers. It’s time for the B.C. Liberal government to listen up and stop undermining the ALR.”
The Auditor General’s report also notes that the B.C. Liberals have cut the budget for the Agricultural Land Commission by more than 28 percent since 2002.
“The commission doesn’t have the resources it needs to ensure it fulfills its mandate of preserving productive farmland, let alone the staff to dedicate to enforcement and evaluation of the hundreds of applications that come to the commission every year,” said Popham.
“If protecting our agricultural resources was important to the B.C. Liberals, they’d start by ensuring the commission had the resources it needs to protect the ALR.”