Supporting ALC funding proposal

Background: The Garden City Lands Coalition Society has consistently and actively supported a strong Agricultural Land Commission, and there are many supportive posts on this blog. The commission was starved for funds, but somehow—thanks largely to former Minister of Agriculture Steve Thomson and current ALC Chair Richard Bullock—has emerged stronger though still too short of funds to execute its whole mandate. The Ministry is currently doing an online ALC Fee Review Consultation.

Action: I urge those who value the Agricultural Land Reserve to support increased fees while also urging the provincial government to increase its funding. Take a few minutes to fill out this online form.

Examples: I am attaching my response and another informed response with some points I wish I’d thought of. The responses recognize that application fees should be more congruent with the ALC’s related costs but are also wary about unconditional agreement. I’m not trying to provide standard answers to copy but am trying to encourage thoughtful, discriminating agreement with what the ALC is seeking.

Deadline: According to “How to provide feedback,” the deadline is 9 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, July 8, 2012.

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6 Comments »

  1. 1

    I didn’t react well to this form. It’s like the first Bush War with Iraq, “Presenting all the options: invade, or just bomb.”

    How about “None of the above?”

    I voted against all the increased fees, noting in the comments that fees should not be used for offset costs, because this is a government SERVICE, not a job done for hire.

    Rather, fees should be used to implement policy. I said I would support any fee increase for any activity that reduced agriculture (such as the application fee for non-ag use), and would oppose any fee increase for any activity that is beneficial of agriculture or REQUIRED of actual working farms.

    This government is certainly the best government money can buy, and turning government services into “pay per view” is only going to make that worse. After a while, the only people who will be allowed to do anything will be those with lots of money, and woe to the “living lightly” farmer who is required to use a “pay per view” service then!

  2. 2
    kewljim Says:

    Re “I would support any fee increase for any activity that reduced agriculture (such as the application fee for non-ag use), and would oppose any fee increase for any activity that is beneficial of agriculture or REQUIRED of actual working farms,” I think that’s a good additional point beyond the ones in the examples.

    However, the government went from ten years of sliding in the wrong direction that was starving the ALC and jeopardizing the ALR to moving in a better direction
    that has strengthened the ALC and ALR. I hope that the valuable point you made (as repeated above) will still be heard.

    • 3

      “government went from ten years of sliding in the wrong direction that was starving the ALC and jeopardizing the ALR to moving in a better direction”

      I’m not so sure I trust them as much as you do. This stinks of Naomi Klein’s “shock doctrine:” create a problem, then implement a draconian solution that benefits the corporatists.

      I don’t think it will be a “better direction” if (for example) a farmer who wants to conserve water by moving from a well and high pressure sprayers to a new pond and gravity fed dripline will have to pay $10,000 for the permit to dig a pond! Meanwhile, the large corporate farms will spend that $10,000 to put in more wells, which will lower the water table, which will require government intervention. Fee-based services does nothing to control externalities.

      I see this move to fee-based services to support the cost of government as nothing more than a corporate power grab. The rich can afford the fees because they merely pass them off to their hapless consumers. The small farm cannot fund the fees in the first place (ever try to increase your mortgage in order to pay government fees?) and certainly can’t pass on the high incremental cost to a smaller number of consumers.

      • 4

        Further example: Rory McAlpine barnstormed the province, scaring everyone into believing that our meat production system was unhealthy. He basically ended farm-butchered meat. Then he went to a cushy Vice President of Government Relations job at Maple Leaf, which then killed nearly two dozen people with meat that came from the very sort of abattoir that McAlpine insisted was necessary to keep us safe.

        “Salt Spring Lamb” used to be a brand on its own, renown in lower BC restaurants and better meat markets. After the McAlpine plague of abattoir regulations, production of meat on Salt Spring Island fell by over 50%.

        So we decided to build a community abattoir that would meet the new regs. We raised the budgeted $350,000, and the abattoir is about to open, but guess what? We’re still about $20,000 short, mainly because at last count, our “fees and permits” budget was underfunded by about $30,000. I’m not saying the fees themselves were $30k — we accounted for all the fees and permits we could research, and were still under by $30k!

        In other words, with all the phone calls and personal contacts we were able to make at all the regulatory agencies, we could not budget for the fees and permits needed within 10% of the total cost of the project!

        This is a slippery slope, folks. Let the government fund the ALC by service fees, and soon, the only ones getting “serviced” will be the deep pockets.

  3. 5
    kewljim Says:

    You are certainly making good points, Jan. I think the principles can be expressed in the consultation format in a way that builds on the stated ministry/commission intent to do more to encourage farming. In that context, one can make a simple logical case that there should be no fees for applications that benefit farming. That would be valuable point to make and reiterate in a consultation response.

    • 6

      I did make that point in my comments, saying I could support such-and-thus fees only if they were implemented in a way to support agriculture.

      Note that none of their justification for increased fees made this point! All the arguments for fees that I recall stressed the need to address the ALC’s budget shortfall! But perhaps I missed something…


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