How will ALR changes affect rural BC?

Our Rural communities are suffering. They are losing population and with it necessary infrastructure.

Dear Editor,

I keep reading articles regarding the changes to take place with the ALR and the land commission, and ask ‘How are these changes going to affect agriculture in BC and in particular rural agriculture and rural communities as a whole?

Our Rural communities are suffering. They are losing population and with it necessary infrastructure that supports farmers, both large and small.  Farmers need other farmers to survive. Feed stores, equipment dealers, veterinarians, abattoirs, fertilizer, seed, hardware and  irrigation suppliers  all require numbers of customers to remain in business in a community. The fewer customers remaining, the further we all have to travel to purchase basic needs, the more difficult it becomes to make agriculture a viable entity. We are also people, and require other amenities and services like doctors, dentists, lawyers, teachers, pharmacies,  ice arenas, swimming pools, cell service etc.  Rural communities need to be able to attract a  population wanting to live in a rural setting, and that usually includes an opportunity to practice some small scale agriculture.  The ALR has over the past 40 years  been a major contributor to the loss of rural populations, by restricting the number of small holdings.

There has been no mention whatsoever in all this talk about restructuring of the ALR and zones, regarding soil capability! YES! I agree, hang onto class 1 soils for major commercial agriculture. The soils are precious in BC. But let some of the class 3, 4 and 5 soils go to small scale  and non-soil based agriculture. A 5 acre parcel on a class 4 rock pile in the southern Okanagan will be far more productive with a horse, a cow, two sheep and an apple tree than the same acreage in grazing land offering grass to one cow on 20 acres for four months of the year. AND the owner might even be a doctor!

Bev Greenwell, Princeton