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Monday, April 9, 2012

Time to Stand up for the ALR and Protect Delta Farmland, say New Democrats

Time to Stand up for the ALR and Protect Delta Farmland, say New Democrats

Victoria— In light of revelations that developers have options to purchase agreements on 600 acres of prime farmland in Delta, New Democrats are calling on the B.C. Liberals to make it clear that the land won't be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve.
“The Liberals have been quietly allowing the Agricultural Land Reserve to be eroded for the last 11 years,” said New Democrat agriculture critic Lana Popham. “It’s time for the Liberals to tell British Columbians where they stand. If they truly support the Agricultural Land Reserve, they need to make it clear that this 600 acre parcel will remain in the reserve.”
The Liberals have yet to take significant action addressing issues with the Agricultural Land Commission raised by the Auditor General in a report issued in 2010. The report noted that “the commission is challenged to effectively preserve agricultural land and encourage farming in British Columbia,” and showed a disturbing pattern of excluding prime agricultural land from the reserve in the south of the province, replacing it with less fertile land in the North.
“If the Liberals allow this land to be taken from the reserve it will strike a concrete arrow into the heart of Delta,” said Guy Gentner, the New Democrat MLA for Delta North. “It would also send a clear message that this government has no intention of protecting the Agricultural Land Reserve.
“This is some of the best farmland in the country; if the Liberals allow it to be developed they can’t credibly say they support the ALR.”
Gentner noted that Delta has already suffered from a wave of exclusions from the ALR that have undermined the ability of the community to retain its agricultural character and support farmers.
“Adrian Dix and the New Democrats recognize that British Columbians overwhelmingly support the Agricultural Land Reserve and want the government to ensure the province maintains the ability to produce local food,” said Popham. “The Liberals have been speaking out of both sides of their mouths on this issue, saying they support the ALR while allowing illegal fill dumping and approving exclusions of some of the best agricultural land in the province.”

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