As the two MLAs representing the Peace River region, we feel it's necessary to inform the public about major changes to the Agricultural Land Commission that will impact anyone in the agricultural industry, landowners in the Agricultural Land Reserve, and quite possibly our resource industry.
The latest changes introduced by John Horgan and his government take the extraordinary step of redefining a “person” as either a municipal or provincial government agency.
This will mean that farmers, ranchers, and companies will no longer be able to personally apply to the Agricultural Land Commission for any exclusion of their land from the Agricultural Land Reserve. In our opinion, the NDP is stripping away the fundamental rights of landowners. Essentially the Horgan government is telling thousands of property owners that the ALR is no longer subject to any change unless the province, a municipality, or a regional district wants one.
No longer will the people who own the land and earn a living from it have a say in its use or its future. The Horgan government also wants to concentrate power in Victoria by eliminating the Commission’s six regional panels, essentially sidelining the expertise of local farmers and ranchers who best know the needs of their unique region.
Local knowledge will be sacrificed for the sake of a central bureaucracy located in Victoria that will create more red tape and generate even more uncertainty over land use. We are still going through the legislation contained in Bill 15 to identify how these changes will further affect local farmers and what possible consequences are in store for our oil and gas industry in terms of future land use decisions.
The erosion of landowner rights started earlier this year when the NDP eliminated Zone 2 of the Agricultural Land Reserve, which gave farmers and ranchers in the north more flexibility and opportunities to earn money off their land.
Clearly the Horgan government no longer respects the rights of landowners.
Dan Davies is the MLA for Peace River North. Mike Bernier is the MLA for Peace River South.