Frequently Asked Questions - About the ALR
How can I determine if a property is in the ALR?
To determine if a property is in the ALR, you may choose to consult ALR maps or use online mapping tools. Another option is to contact your local government office and request their assistance in determining the ALR status of the property. In order for a local government office to determine whether or not a property is in the ALR, they will need the full legal description of the property as it appears on the Certificate of Title or tax / assessment notice.
If there is any doubt as to the ALR status of a property or your financial / investment decisions require written confirmation of ALR status or you require linear dimensions describing the relative location of the ALR boundary then you should contact the Agricultural Land Commission office. You must provide the following information:
- Phone number
- Fax number
- Parcel ID (PID)
- Legal Description
- Location of Property (Regional District/Municipality)
You can email your information to General Inquiries, phone the mapping department at (604) 660-7023, or FAX your inquiry to (604) 660-7033.
We will endeavour to respond to your request quickly; however due to the volume of requests we cannot guarantee when a response will be provided. Priority will be given to those who provide complete information.
Please Note – A Certificate of Title may display a legal notation to the effect of:
“THIS CERTIFICATE OF TITLE MAY BE AFFECTED BY THE AGRICULTURAL LAND COMMISSION ACT, SEE PLAN M11379"
We cannot respond to a request for a copy of a plan number that is displayed by the legal notation appearing on the Certificate of Title. However, we are able to provide you with a written statement of the ALR status for a particular property. If requested, this will include a partial copy of the relevant ALR map showing the relative location of the ALR to the subject property.
My property is in the ALR. What does this mean?
If your property is in the ALR, it means that it is subject to the Agricultural Land Commission Act which was established to preserve agricultural land for present and future generations and to encourage the establishment and maintenance of farms as a secure source of food.
The ALR can be thought of as a provincial land use zone in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use. Farming is encouraged and non-agricultural uses are regulated. If you wish to subdivide or use your land for non-farm purposes or exclude your land from the ALR, you must submit an application to the Commission and obtain its approval.
Should you wish to make an application, contact your local government office (i.e. the municipality, regional district or Islands Trust office in which your property is located). Information may also be obtained from the Agricultural Land Commission office.
How do I make an application?
There are 4 types of applications:
- Application by a landowner to include, exclude, subdivide or use land in the ALR for non-farm purposes
- Application for a Non-Farm Use to Place Fill or Remove Soil
- Notice of Intent for Proposals to Place Fill or Remove Soil
- Application for Transportation, Utility and Recreational Trail Uses in the ALR
Click here for more information
Where do I get an application form?
Application forms are available from your local government office or the Agricultural Land Commission office and can also be downloaded from this site (see Forms).
How much does an application cost?
Application fees vary depending on the type of application you are making (see Fees).
The fees represent a portion of the costs involved in processing your application. A portion of the application fee is retained by the local government and the balance of the fee is submitted to the Agricultural Land Commission office.
Will I get a refund if my application is refused?
Application fees are non refundable. However, in instances where the local government does not authorize your application to proceed to the Commission, the portion of the fee normally submitted to the Commission is returned to you. In cases of hardship, there are provisions to waive the application fees. Ask for information on the Commission's policy on Waiving of Fees to determine if you qualify.
How long does an application take?
The Commission strives to process your application within 90 days of receipt. However, the length of time to process your application depends on the type of application and its complexity. Delays can occur if your application is incomplete or does not have the necessary documents or fee enclosed. Delays may also occur if the Commission feels it requires additional information such as an on-site inspection of your property by its staff agrologist or members of the Commission.
Additional information may also be required from the local government or other government agencies.
Most types of applications are submitted directly to the local government office, which, in turn, forwards your application to the Commission.
How will I find out the Commission's decision? Can you tell me the decision over the phone?
You will be notified of the Commission's decision on your application by letter. The Commission has a policy of not relaying its decisions over the phone in order to avoid any misinterpretation or misunderstanding as in many instances, decisions are complex and contain extensive rationale and stipulations.
Telephone calls to staff asking for this information only adds to delays as the time spent advising you that the information cannot be given over the phone and the reasons for this take away from the time staff can spend on processing your application.
What information does the Commission consider? What are my chances for success?
The information the Commission considers is noted in the Applicant's Information Package which can be obtained from your local government office. The chances of success of your application depend entirely on the specific circumstances involved. The more information you supply, the better the Commission can understand your request. How does your proposal benefit agriculture? Does your proposal impact negatively on the potential for farming in your area? How does your proposal relate to the responsibility of the Commission to preserve agricultural lands? These issues are paramount to the Commission's decision.
If my application is refused, can the decision be appealed or reconsidered?
If your application is refused, it will not be reconsidered by the Commission unless there is new evidence that was not available at the time of its original decision, or if the decision was based on evidence that was in error or false.
There is no avenue for appeal except on a question of law or excess of jurisdiction by way of stated case to the Supreme Court. The remedies of the Judicial Review Procedures Act also apply.
What is the Commission? Who are the Commissioners? Where are they from? Do they work full-time? How often does the Commission meet?
The Commission consists of a minimum of seven members. The Chair and Vice-Chairs are appointed by Cabinet. Other members of the Commission are appointed by the Minister of Sustainable Resource Management. The Commissioners are knowledgeable in agriculture, land use planning and local government.
Currently there are 19 Commissioners. The Commission has created 6 Regional Panels to carry out the duties of the Commission and to represent the Commission in different areas of BC. Each panel consists of 3 Commissioners from that region, one of which is a Vice-Chair of the Commission and serves as Chair of the Regional Panel.
Each Commission panel will be present in a panel region up to 4-5 times a year. The frequency of Commission meetings is dependent on the number of applications and other issues involving the ALR in a particular panel region.
Can I develop my property as allowed by local zoning?
Not unless the proposed use or subdivision is one that is allowed by the Agricultural Land Commission Act or Regulations or has been specifically approved by the Commission by way of an application.
Does the Commission's decision overrule local government?
Local government bylaws and the Agricultural Land Commission Act regulate the use of ALR lands. If an approval is granted by the Commission, you must still comply with the local government regulations as well as any other legislation that may apply to your proposal.
Will the Commission allow my proposal if local government supports my proposal?
Not necessarily. The Commission values the opinion of local governments but it may disagree.
What is the minimum lot size allowed in the ALR?
There is no minimum parcel size established by the Commission for lands within the ALR. While local government subdivision and zoning bylaws may establish minimum parcel sizes, this does not necessarily mean that the Commission will approve an application to subdivide to the parcel size permitted by local zoning.
How many dwellings are permitted per parcel?
One single family dwelling per land registry parcel is permitted within the ALR. In addition, one secondary suite within a single family dwelling and one manufactured home up to 9 m in width, for use by the owner's immediate family are also permitted, unless otherwise prohibited by a local government bylaw. Additional permanent dwellings may be permitted if they are required for full time, legitimate, bone fide farm operations.
Any other dwellings require an application under the ALCA.
Is there a time limit on an approval? Can
the approval be transferred to a subsequent property owner?
There is no time limit on an approval of the Commission unless specifically noted as a condition of approval. The approval runs with the land and therefore is transferable to subsequent owners of the land unless stipulated otherwise as a condition of the approval.
What is the soil classification or agriculture capability rating of my property?
The Commission uses the Land Capability Classification System for Agriculture in British Columbia and where this mapping is not available, the Canada Land Inventory mapping, to determine the agricultural capability of land. Both systems identify land according to its potential and limitations for agriculture using a rating system of Class 1 to 7.
Where can I get soil or agriculture capability information?
To access agricultural capability GIS data, visit the following link on the
Ministry of Environment website:
To access other soils information visit the following link on the
Ministry of Environment website:
For additional information or to order soils or agriculture capability maps, contact: email@example.com
Other resources for soil information include:
Do I need to make an application to place fill on my property? Do I need to make an application to remove soil from my property?
The Agricultural Land Commission Act specifies that removal of soil and placement of fill are non-farm uses that require the approval of the Commission. However, the Act also specifies that the removal of soil and placement of fill for specified farm and non-farm uses are exempt from the requirements to file an application providing that certain conditions are met. Refer to Part 3 of the Agricultural Land Reserve Use, Subdivision and Procedure Regulation for further information on farm and non-farm uses involving the placement of fill and removal of soil that qualify for exemption and for details on notification requirements. If your proposal does not qualify for exemption, an application for non-farm use is required.
What is fill?
The Agricultural Land Commission Act defines "fill" as any material brought onto land in an agricultural land reserve other than materials exempted by regulation. The Commission's position is that fill is not restricted to soil materials and can take the form of, but limited to vegetative refuse, construction debris, concrete, asphalt, metal, etc.
What is soil?
The Agricultural Land Commission Act defines "soil" as the entire mantle of unconsolidated material above bedrock other than minerals as defined in the Mineral Tenure Act.
Do I need a permit to place fill on or remove soil from my property?
There is no requirement under the Agricultural Land Commission Act for a permit. However, local government bylaws may require you obtain a permit.
If my proposal to remove soil or place fill is approved by the Commission, can I proceed?
Maybe. The approval of other agencies such as the local government, the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection may also be required.