Dan Davies: Families caught up in NDP’s haste to return ALR back to the 70s

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It may be hard to believe that July 18 is the second anniversary of the NDP assuming the reins of power in British Columbia. During this relatively short period they’ve managed to alienate their Green Party partners quite a bit by approving Site C and LNG, but their prenuptial agreement seems to be holding strong despite some major differences between the two parties.

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One area where they find common ground is a shared desire to return the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to the way it was back in the 1970s, when then NDP Premier Davie Barrett first came up with the idea. 

In fact, in less than two years the NDP has put the stops on any progress made in the last four decades, including the elimination of Zone Two. Under the BC Liberals, the ALR was divided into two zones so that property owners in the north had more flexibility and farmers could find more ways to make a living off the land.

Alas, these changes were far too radical for the NDP to stomach, and Zone Two quickly became the first victim in the new regime. However, the problem is that in the NDP’s haste to return the ALR back to 1973 standards, quite a few people got caught in the crossfire when it came to establishing a second home on their own property. I have been fielding numerous calls from constituents on this as of late.

The result has been nothing less than a disaster for those wanting to help their parents age-in-place on the family farm or ranch. Many purchased mobile homes to facilitate a move onto their mom or dad’s property — with their own young families — when they suddenly discovered the rules had been stacked against them by a government determined to halt any new development on ALR lands.

Under intense public pressure, Premier John Horgan and the NDP were forced to back down until February of next year.

But this is just a temporary reprieve because the NDP believes it knows best and when it comes to what property owners can or cannot do on their own land. We will wait and see how this moves forward but I suspect a disaster like most things in the last two years.

Dan Davies is the MLA for Peace River North.

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