Farm regulator raising fees, adding enforcement

ALC chair Frank Leonard says some farmers waiting two years for a decision, changes to restore 'credibility' to commission

Agricultural Land Commission chair Frank Leonard

The Agricultural Land Commission is imposing a steep increase in application fees, with a “money back guarantee” if applications aren’t processed within 90 business days.

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick and ALC chair Frank Leonard announced the new policy at the B.C. legislature Thursday, to take effect April 1.

For zone one, the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan, the application fee goes from $600 to $1,500. In zone two, the remainder of the province, the fee goes from $600 to $900. Letnick said the majority of farm income is generated in zone one, so farmers can afford to pay more.

The increase still doesn’t cover the estimated $3,000 cost of processing an application, most of which are for non-farm use or an exclusion or subdivision of agricultural land. Letnick said the province is adding an additional $1.1 million to the ALC budget to make up the difference.

Leonard, appointed last year after Letnick terminated the contract of long-time chair Richard Bullock, said he found almost no decisions were being made within the 60 working days that is his new benchmark. Most were taking a year or more.

“I met people in their 80s who had been waiting two years for a decision,” he said.

NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham said she’s concerned that the short deadline for commission decisions is a drift toward becoming an “application machine” rather than the ALC’s mandate to protect farmland.

Leonard said subdivision and land exclusion applications mean considerable financial gain for applicants, so the increased fee isn’t a deterrent for them. Letnick said approved non-farm uses can mean extra income for farmers and are a priority for the government.

The ALC has doubled its compliance and enforcement staff to four, and Leonard said the additional budget will allow him to add two more this year.

“Our intention is not only to give the ALC more credibility in terms of enforcing legislation and regulations, but with the budget we have we’ll be able to get them around the province,” Leonard said. “So we won’t have six people in Burnaby waiting for the phone to ring.”

The commission is also adding new fees, $150 for reviewing documents, $350 per site inspection and monitoring fees of $500 to $2,000 annually for sites that require ongoing monitoring such as soil fill and removal or gravel extraction.

 

Just Posted

Share a Smile Telethon moves to Cherry Lane Shopping Centre

The 39th annual event benefits the OSNS Child & Youth Development Centre

Vees and Warriors on Wicked Wednesday

The Penticton Vees and West Kelowna Warriors place twice this week

New website to be info hub for expectant mothers in, around Penticton

The website, www.pentictonmaternity.com, provides info on care options in the area

Man accused of smuggling drugs across Osoyoos border still waiting for arraignment

Armando Esparza-Ochoa was charged on Sept. 1 for importing/exporting a controlled substance

Couple reportedly staking out Summerland home

The man and woman were seen in a black Suzuki Tracker with a white back

Your weekday weather update

Flurries and more rain anticipated for the Okanagan - Shuswap

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

Heading soccer balls can cause damage to brain cells: UBC study

Roughly 42 per cent of children in the country play soccer, according to statistics from Heritage Canada

Most Read