Good news on strengthened ALR

Recent news that B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve is being strengthened– with additional staff, restrictions on repeated applications for removals, and non-local oversight– reminds me how lucky we are to have the ALR.

Critics have rightly pointed out that the new ALR rules still assume exclusions will occur– they even count on exclusion applicants’ fees as a revenue source.

Even so, we’re still ahead of jurisdictions where it’s only a matter of time until sprawling cities eat up adjacent ag land, and before that, drive up prices for that land, making farming less viable.


A seminal study of this “urban shadow” effect in southern Ontario in the 1980s found that “current policy instruments are no match for the pressures of urbanization. … they do not address the underlying pressure created by the penetration of urban land markets in rural areas through the process of ‘urban shadow’. ”
(from Krushelnicki, Bruce W. and S.J. Bell. April, 1989. Monitoring the loss of agricultural land: Identifying the urban price shadow in the Niagara Region, Canada. Land Use Policy. pages 141 – 150.)

The study figured out how to use  land sales records to document speculative land price increases, depletion of the agricultural land inventory can be identified before changes take place in land use.

Its conclusion: ag land is best protected by options such as agricultural land banks, centralized land commissions and policies to redirect urban growth to less important land.

And when we’ve got good ag land in a reserve, leave it there.


About Urban Food Revolution

Peter Ladner is a former Vancouver city councilor, Metro Vancouver vice-chair and business owner who is currently a weekly columnist at Business in Vancouver newspaper and a regular contributor to, a Seattle-based online news service. He is the author of The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way we Feed Cities, published by New Society in November, 2011. For the past two years he has been a Fellow at the SFU Centre for Dialogue researching, teaching and organizing public events around the theme Planning Cities as if Food Matters. He was first elected to Vancouver City Council in 2002, was re-elected in 2005 and ran for mayor in 2008. He is a former member of the TransLink Board, and was vice chair of the Metro Vancouver Board. Peter has been the publisher, president and part owner of the Business in Vancouver Media Group, which he co-founded in 1989. He has a lifelong interest in growing food. As a city councilor, he worked with the Vancouver Food Policy Council in initiating the city’s program to add 2010 food-producing community garden plots by 2010. He is vice-chair of the The Natural Step Canada, part of an international organization that advances sustainability in communities and corporations. He has a B.A. from UBC and did graduate work at the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning. He and his wife Erica have four adult children.
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