To the Honourable Christy Clark, premier,
In reference to firing Richard Bullock, chairman of the Agriculture Land Commission (ALC) May 14, 2015.
It is another sad day in the annals of your government. One step at a time the ALR is being dismantled, which most British Columbians have proudly embraced since its inception in 1973.
At a time when the Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR) should be strengthened, you are weakening and taking it apart. My best guess is that most British Columbians would agree that we need to preserve our farmland and move it up to another level of productivity and value.
Either you are ignorant or you are unwilling to concede that B.C. has a small amount of agriculture land compared to other provinces, states and countries of a similar geographical size.
There also appears to be disconnect or a lack of understanding over the fact that there are too many people in the world, too little fertile farmland and an agriculture capability to feed the burgeoning population that will double in size much too quickly.
Eventually our province will need every piece of agricultural land to be able to feed our people as food systems worldwide diminish and break down because of the human overpopulation.
Bad agriculture and land use practices, poorly thought out energy decisions, reduced water supplies and our rapidly changing climate (faster than climate scientists predicted) are compounding the problem.
It is time to realize the consequences of your wrongheaded policies and direction that will perpetuate our dependence upon agriculture production from other jurisdictions.
What were you thinking when you fired Mr. Bullock, an astute, highly thought of and capable chairman for the ALC? He was a fierce defender of the ALR prior to the recent changes to its structure.
Not only have you fired someone who was doing a good job, he would have filled his term on November 30, 2015. In his place you have hired someone who does not have near the same expertise or experience.
As well your Government divided the ALR into Northern and Southern Zones.
The Northern Zone now has a less robust ALR protective mantel around it. The new rules will allow some agriculture land to be used for other purposes, such as oil and gas exploration and development, and construction of the Site C dam whose reservoir will cover the most productive agriculture land in Northern B.C. We can ill afford to lose that farmland which in the long term will be more valuable than the electric power being created for LNG production.
Foreign interests have purchased large tracts of agriculture land (est. 10,000 ha. of 4.7 million ha. total agriculture land in BC) for carbon sequestration and credits by planting trees on land that cannot be logged for 100 years because a covenant saying that must be so. Should we need that land for agriculture the covenant prevents it from happening. Apparently we are the only western province which does not have restrictions on foreign ownership of agriculture land.
It appears that Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick is misinformed over the most recent sale of 7,000 ha. of agriculture land that has been sold to foreign interests, saying it was 1,500 ha.
I am ashamed your government is treating farmland in such an irresponsible way. I live in Terrace where a small tract of productive farmland in the ALR along the Skeena River will be threatened by development proposals should your LNG dream become a reality.
Terrace at one time was the bread basket for the Skeena Valley but lost most of that agriculture capability because past land use planning and development excluded retention of the most productive farm land. The changes to the ALR provide little comfort that the right decisions will be made in favour of protecting Terrace farmland when competing with urban development.