Local governments, both regional and municipal, are partners in the agricultural land preservation program
Approximately 150 local governments have lands in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR); some having large areas of ALR land in their jurisdiction, others with very little. Local governments play an important role in enabling farm businesses to thrive on protected farmlands, therefore contributing to the local, regional and provincial economy. The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) supports coordinated and collaborative planning with local governments to ensure agricultural lands are protected and available to provide food and other agricultural products for generations to come.
Local governments are usually the first point of contact when someone decides to make an application under the Agricultural Land Commission Act (the "ALC Act"). They receive and review the application and supporting documents, on which basis staff prepare a report. The municipal council or regional board then decide whether to authorize the application to be forwarded to the ALC for decision. Local governments provide information to the ALC related to land use planning and zoning bylaws, and may provide comments specific to each application. Local governments do not have approval authority for ALR applications, but in some cases, they do have refusal authority. Refer to Sec. 25 (3) or 30 (4) of the ALC Act for further details.
Land Use Planning
While the ALC is ultimately responsible for the administration of the ALR; local government bylaws, land use plans and farm use policies are essential, complementary components, helping to achieve the objectives of the ALR.
A number of statutory requirements enable local governments and the ALC to collaborate in protecting ALR land.
- The ALC Act mandates the ALC to work with local governments to accommodate, support and encourage farming on ALR lands. The ALC Act also requires local governments to ensure its bylaws (growth strategies, official community plans and zoning bylaws, etc.) are consistent with the ALC Act.
- The Local Government Act requires community plans affecting the ALR be forwarded to the ALC for review and comment to ensure consistency with the ALC Act.
Dispute Resolution on Community Issues
The ALC Act provides for a dispute resolution process where the ALC and a local government disagree over a community issue involving land within the ALR.
Working Together to Achieve Compliance
In addition to working together on land use plans and bylaws, local governments and the ALC often collaborate to resolve ALR land use infractions. An infraction may contravene legislation administered by the ALC and/or be inconsistent with a local plan or bylaw.