THE BC Liberals say Premier John Horgan and the NDP are stripping away the fundamental rights of landowners and effectively taking control of agricultural land under Bill 15, the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) Amendment Act.
“Under this bill, private property owners will no longer have the right to petition the ALC for removal of land no matter what circumstances have changed. Only a local government or First Nations government will have the right to apply for changes,” says Ian Paton, BC Liberal Co-Critic for Agriculture and MLA for Delta South. “The NDP government seems to think it knows how to best manage people’s private property, and in our view that’s an arrogant way to operate.”
“This move is part of the NDP’s disturbing approach to agricultural issues,” says Marvin Hunt, MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale. “First they targeted the home sizes of multi-generational farm families with unique needs, and now they’re taking away the right of landowners to make changes to their personal property. It makes you wonder who or what the NDP will come for next.”
The BC Liberals also note Bill 15 will eliminate local voices and concentrate power in Victoria.
“The elimination of the ALC’s six regional panels effectively shuts out the expertise of local farmers and ranchers, meaning the conditions and circumstances of B.C.’s diverse agricultural regions may not get the consideration they deserve,” says Linda Larson, BC Liberal Co-Critic for Agriculture and MLA for Boundary-Similkameen. “This decision allows the judgment of the NDP to replace that valuable local knowledge, and that’s just wrong.”
The BC Liberals note these regional panels were among a series of reforms by the former BC Liberal government that relieved a massive backlog of applications. Moving back to a single commission may create more red tape— and uncertainty— for farm owners across British Columbia.