Recent news that B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve is being strengthened– with additional staff, restrictions on repeated applications for removals, and non-local oversight– reminds me how lucky we are to have the ALR.
Critics have rightly pointed out that the new ALR rules still assume exclusions will occur– they even count on exclusion applicants’ fees as a revenue source.
Even so, we’re still ahead of jurisdictions where it’s only a matter of time until sprawling cities eat up adjacent ag land, and before that, drive up prices for that land, making farming less viable.
A seminal study of this “urban shadow” effect in southern Ontario in the 1980s found that “current policy instruments are no match for the pressures of urbanization. … they do not address the underlying pressure created by the penetration of urban land markets in rural areas through the process of ‘urban shadow’. ”
(from Krushelnicki, Bruce W. and S.J. Bell. April, 1989. Monitoring the loss of agricultural land: Identifying the urban price shadow in the Niagara Region, Canada. Land Use Policy. pages 141 – 150.)
The study figured out how to use land sales records to document speculative land price increases, depletion of the agricultural land inventory can be identified before changes take place in land use.
Its conclusion: ag land is best protected by options such as agricultural land banks, centralized land commissions and policies to redirect urban growth to less important land.
And when we’ve got good ag land in a reserve, leave it there.