The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) is mandated to encourage others, including the provincial government and its agents, to take the interests of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and agriculture into account when generating new policies, participating in land use planning initiatives, changing legislation and regulation, and planning for future developments.
Government ministries and agencies can have considerable impact on agricultural land through such things as transportation planning, wildlife habitat management and conservation, forest and water management and energy planning. Accordingly, the ALC is both proactive and collaborative in working with ministries, supporting and helping them to use their plans, bylaws and policies to enable and accommodate farm use of agricultural land and/or to support uses compatible with agriculture.
As part of the Ministry of Agriculture (the "Ministry") Strengthening Farming program, the ALC and the Ministry have formed Agri-Teams to provide assistance to local governments with land in the ALR. More information regarding Agri-Teams can be found on the Ministry's Support for Local Governments Planning for Agriculture webpage.
Land Resource Management Plans
Land resource management plans are an area of importance in many of the rural areas of BC. Generally, the ALC relies on the Ministry of Agriculture representative to look after its interests in these processes.
Integrated Watershed Management
Competing land use interests have led to several integrated watershed planning exercises. It is important that Agri-Teams become involved to represent agricultural interests and ensure compliance with the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act , the Local Government Act and the Agricultural Land Commission Act (the "ALC Act).
Delegation of Decision Making to Agencies
The ALC Act empowers the ALC to delegate certain decision making to an "authority” – which is defined as "an agent of government, a public body or public officer" with whom the ALC has an agreement. By this, the ALC may, by agreement, transfer certain of its powers and authority to another agency. The ALC Act, Section 26 (5), stipulates, that once a delegation agreement has been struck, any decision taken by the delegate agency is treated with the same force and effect as a decision of the ALC.
The goal, in these situations, is to take advantage of an external agency’s capacity to help reduce duplication of application requirements and to streamline processing while ensuring ALR lands are preserved and protected.
While a delegation agreement is entered into voluntarily by both parties, the ALC must carefully weigh the ability of delegate agencies to fully honour the ALC's statutory obligations. Contents of a delegation agreement can include: principles, criteria or policies related to the decisions being delegated and clearly communicated expectations related to information requirements, application processes, form and content of decisions, timelines, communication policy, reviews, audits and evaluations, addressing conflicts, and when changes to the agreement are necessary and how they are to be made. Considerable training may be required for an authority to assume the delegated authority and properly execute the statutory role under the ALC Act.
The ALC retains the right to withdraw a delegation agreement if the terms of the agreement are abrogated in any way. Local governments will be consulted during the negotiation of a delegation agreement with an external authority.
Active Delegation Agreements with other Agencies
Oil and Gas Commission (OGC)
The ALC signed a delegation agreement under Section 26 of the ALC Act with the OGC. The agreement came into effect April 1, 2004 and was most recently updated in June 2013. In November 2013, the ALC created a historical overview of the ALC’s position regarding oil and gas activities in the ALR.
In 2009, the ALC conducted an audit of the then delegation agreement. The audit examined OGC approvals and related activities in the Peace River Regional District occurring in fiscal 2006 and 2007 – April 1, 2006 through March 31, 2008.
Other key documents
- Schedule A - Pre-Site Assessment
- Schedule B - Reclamation Assessment
- Questions and Answers - Updated June 2013
- Landowner Information for Oil and Gas Activities in British Columbia