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Provincial Ag land reserve continues to shrink

B.C.’s agricultural land reserve shrank by 632 hectares during the year ended March 31, as applications to the Agricultural Land Commission rose for the fifth consecutive year.

The net exclusion is only a tiny fraction of 4.7 million hectares protected in the land reserve, but the commission notes in its annual report that population and economic growth continues to put pressure on for other uses of the agricultural land base.

The commission’s regional panels hear applications to add land to the reserve, remove it, create subdivisions within it and allow non-farm uses. Municipalities can apply to remove land for “community need,” and the annual report found that 40 per cent of those applications came with insufficient information attached.

During the year the commission established a compliance and enforcement program for the first time. It hired three people but didn’t meet its objective for the year to recruit six, to enforce rules over the entire province.

Land inclusions and exclusions by region:

South Coast: six hectares added, 73 excluded

Okanagan: four hectares added, 287 excluded

Island: 104 hectares added, 23 excluded

North: 59 hectares added, 543 excluded

Interior: 366 hectares added, 34 excluded

Kootenay: 49 hectares added, 260 excluded.

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