Protect agricultural lands

I am appalled to learn of the recent proposal from your agriculture minister.

Along with many others, I am appalled to learn of the recent proposal from your agriculture minister that the Agricultural Land Commission’s mandate be expanded to take economic development priorities into account (specifically those of the oil and gas industry) and some of the land commission’s powers in the north should be handed over to the Oil and Gas Commission.

Shockingly, as published in the Globe and Mail, the minister’s proposed changes extend to the whole of the province.

The specific proposals are:

— Modernize ALC decision-making to reflect government priorities.

— Create two ALR areas with different rules.

— Change the ALC’s legislative mandate, in one or both ALR areas.

— Remove some decisions from the ALC.

— Allow community growth applications to be decided by local governments.

— Modernize ALC operations by moving the ALC into the Ministry.

All this when the world’s food supply is in peril, in a province where less than 5 per cent of the land is arable, and faces constant pressure from industry and developers.

Premier Clark, if economic development priorities are of prime importance, I trust you recognize that with its $10 billion a year contribution, our agricultural sector is B.C.’s prime producer of truly renewable energy.

The preservation of agricultural land brings economic benefit not only of employment, health, environmental protection and tourism, it also ensures sustainable food supplies for a future threatened by world over-population and climate change.

Premier Clark, it is unsettling that the cabinet minister entrusted with this important sector should be the voice suggesting measures to weaken agriculture in our province.

I hope the citizens of B.C. can look forward to your firm commitment to strengthen the Agricultural Land Commission, and to the rejection of Minister Pimm’s dangerous proposal.

Barbara Lambert