Thursday, January 15, 2009

State of the ALR

I was doing some research on Agricultural Land Reserve stats in the Province of BC. If you look at the bottom line number from when the ALR was started until today, we’ve actually seen an increase in lands added into the reserve: From 4,716,516 hectares in 1974 to 4,759,682 hectares in 2008. This seems really good on the surface, but if you look a little closer there is another story to be told.

The ALR Commission has a classification system for ARL lands, Class One being the best and Class Seven being unable to sustain agriculture. The majority of the best land (Class One) for agriculture is in the South Coast, Southern Vancouver Island, and Okanagan which also happens to be where the vast major of our population lives. More on that. Theses regions are also the areas where there is the most pressure to remove land for the ALR. The following table tells the story (click the table to expand).

Are you can see, the regional districts with the most productive land in the province have all seen major losses in ALR land. This land has been replaced with land that is located in the north (above Williams Lake) where soils are of poorer quality. In fact about 81% of ALR land lies outside the highly futile Coast Coast, South Vancouver Island, Okanagan, and Kootenay areas. Only 5% of BC is ALR land and only about .95% is prime ALR land, land that is worth protecting. Smart Growth BC has a great website about the benefits of having food close to population. To sum it up, it’s better to be able to get food that’s 50km away instead of 1000km.

There is one other stats that I found interesting: 65% of all land being included into the ALR since it formation has been from private landowners. A full 70% of land excluded from the ALR is from the Provincial government. This would include things such as the South Fraser Perimeter Road and Highway 91 through Richmond.

Anyway, I have placed a call into the ALR Commission to get by municipality stats for land included and excluded from the ALR in the South Fraser/Fraser Valley region. I’ll keep you posted.

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