What the Commission Considers

The ALC is an administrative tribunal under the Administrative Tribunals Act. Each application is considered on a case-by-case basis within the context of ALC mandate.

ALR Zone MapALR Zones

The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is located in two zones and six panel regions.

Zone 1 (Island, Okanagan, South Coast)

In Zone 1, the three purposes of the ALC Act are considered the basis and primary ‘filter’ for assessing all proposed applications.

The purposes of the commission as stated in Section 6 of the Agricultural Land Commission Act are:

(a)  to preserve agricultural land;
(b)  to encourage farming on agricultural land in collaboration with other communities of interest;
(c)  to encourage local governments, first nations, the government and its agents to enable and accommodate farm use of agricultural land and uses compatible with agriculture in their plans, bylaws and policies.

Zone 2 (Interior, Kootenay, North)

When exercising a power under the ALC Act in relation to land located in Zone 2, the commission must consider all of the following, in descending order of priority:

 (a) the purposes of the commission set out in Section 6 of the Agricultural Land Commission Act;
 (b) economic, cultural and social values;
 (c) regional and community planning objectives;
 (d) other prescribed considerations.


Commission Considerations

The following table is a sample of common questions that the ALC may consider when reviewing an application. As an administrative tribunal, the ALC can consider a wide variety of information as part of its decision making.

*Each unique application warrants the consideration of multiple criteria, and none of the below questions are considered in isolation.  Nor is this a comprehensive list.

Question

Reason for Consideration

Potential Consequence of Approval

      Applicant Information

  1. How long has the applicant owned the parcel?

 

  • Applicants who have recently purchased agricultural parcels and have not attempted to farm or improve the land may not be committed to using the ALR parcel for agriculture.

Encourages short-term land owners to apply for non-agricultural land uses.

      Parcel Information

  1. Is the parcel currently used for agriculture?

 

  • If the land is currently used for agriculture, there must be compelling justification for it to be used for a non-agricultural purpose.

Loss of current productive agricultural land.

  1. Is the parcel suitable for agriculture?

  • If the land is suitable for agricultural use (regardless of current use) it should be retained in the ALR.

Loss of potentially productive agricultural land.

  1. Does the parcel under application have “Farm Classification” from BC Assessment?

  • Farm Classification may indicate whether the land is used for agriculture, and the parcel’s minimum gross agricultural income.

Loss of current productive agricultural land.

  1. What is the agricultural capability?

 

  • Prime agricultural land is scarce and extremely valuable. Some secondary classification land can be improved to prime, while other types of agriculture require large tracts of secondary class land for pasture and forage crops.

  • Consider agricultural capability of the land with and without improvements before allowing a proposal based on poor agricultural capability.

Loss of current or potentially productive agricultural land.

  1. Have there been any attempted agricultural improvements to the parcel?

  • The Commission considers whether an effort to improve the land has been attempted.

Loss of potentially productive agricultural land.

  1. What types of land use surround the parcel?

 

  • The application should not adversely affect surrounding agricultural operations.

  • Surrounding non-agricultural activities may affect the use or suitability of the subject parcel for agriculture.

  • Aim to minimize any possible rural and residential conflicts either by refusing a potentially detrimental proposal, or by applying conditions to an approval (e.g. fencing, buffering, vegetative screening, restrictive covenants, etc.).

Negatively impact surrounding agricultural operations, or, create conflict between rural and residential uses.

      Proposal Information

  1. Does the proposal encourage or enhance agriculture/agri-business in the short or long-term?

  • The ALC mandate is to encourage farming in collaboration with other communities of interest.

 

Heightens expectations for non-agricultural land uses in the ALR, loss of land for agricultural use.

  1. Could this proposal be accommodated on lands outside of the ALR, or on an alternative site within the ALR that is less capable or suitable for agriculture?

  • Any non-agricultural use within the ALR needs to be compatible and/or clearly justified. Once agricultural land is lost, it is rarely ever reclaimed to agricultural use.

  • ALR land is often less expensive than non-ALR lands but this does not justify its use for non-farm purposes.

Loss of current or potentially productive agricultural land.

  1. Will the proposal remove currently unused agricultural land?

  • ALC mandate is to preserve agricultural land – this includes land currently used as well as unused but with potential for future use.

Loss of current or potentially productive agricultural land.

  1. Will the proposal encourage parcelization of land in an agricultural area?

  • Large parcels are generally viewed as more conducive to a wider range of agricultural options; small parcels are generally viewed as having less agricultural options and rural residential.

Raises expectations for non-agricultural and rural residential uses in the ALR.

  1. Despite the non-agricultural nature of the proposal, has the proposal been identified through collaborative planning with the ALC to identify an important use for the local community, region, or province?

  • The Commission acknowledges that there may be community based reasons why in some cases non-agricultural uses are proposed on ALR lands.

Loss of current or potentially productive agricultural land.

     Local Government Information

  1. How does the proposal relate to local Agricultural Plans, Official Community Plans, and bylaws?

 

  • The ALC Act requires local governments to ensure its bylaws (Growth Strategies, OCPs and zoning bylaws, etc.) are consistent with the Act, failing which they are of no force and effect.

  • Local governments have the ability to stop applications from proceeding to the Commission in certain instances where a proposal is contrary to local land use planning. The ALC Act provides that if an application applies to land that is zoned for agricultural or farm use or requires an amendment to a plan or bylaw, the application may not proceed unless it is authorized by the local government.

  • The Commission considers local government recommendations from the region of application.

  1. What are the recommendations from the Board/Council, Agricultural Advisory Committee, Advisory Planning Committee, Planning Staff, etc?