Stricter farmland laws in B.C. now in full force

The B.C. government has introduced new laws under Bill 52 to strengthen the provinces Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) as part of the province’s plan to encourage farming and better protect farmland. The bill was first introduced near the end of November last year and received royal assent in December 2018. The ALR is administered by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).

Three key changes from the bill include:

  • Restricting the removal of soil, and increased penalties for the dumping of construction debris and other harmful fill in the ALR.
  • Directly addressing “mega-mansions” and speculation in the ALR by limiting primary residence size on ALR lands and empowering the ALC to approve additional residences if they are for farm use.
  • Reunifying the ALR as a single zone, ensuring consistent rules with strong protections for all provincial ALR land.

“I’m very happy to see this law come into full force and effect,” says Lana Popham, B.C.’s minister of agriculture. “We’re supporting larger farming families by ensuring that those who need extra living space to support their farming operations have a path forward at the ALC to build a larger home. Multi-generational farming families are the backbone of agriculture throughout B.C.”

In an effort to make sure it’s fair for all, people who already had all their permits and authorizations in place on Feb. 22, 2019, when the regulations became law, will be grandfathered under the old system provided they begin substantial construction by Nov. 5, 2019.

According to the new release, ALR includes over 4.7 million hectares of B.C. that are preserved for agricultural use — less than 5 per cent of B.C.’s total land base.

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