Bill 24 is rotten to the core

Update, April 23: The heading of a Sun article says a lot: “Minister promises B.C.-wide consultation before ALR changes: Bill could be changed or withdrawn, Norm Letnick says after daylong meeting with farmers’ group:”

Update, April 21: I have just highlighted one paragraph below by means of red type. It is the crucial effect of Bill 24 and related conduct that Bill Bennett (and others who have been enlisted) has successfully kept below the radar, even though it is in keeping with known intentions.That is one reason why it is so important to support Richard Bullock and the ALC team with the Thank You Richard Bullock online card (beyond the basic aspect that they have earned our appreciation). It is at http://you.leadnow.ca/p/bullock

As has seemed logical for days, new agriculture minister Norm Letnick will be meeting with stakeholders about Bill 24 soon (on Wednesday, April 23). Naturally he has to act as though the intent is to adapt it on the basis of the consultation that should have been done long ago. However, one of his fondest hopes in life right now must be that the bill to kill the ALR will go away. If the stakeholders advocate that, there will be happiness all round.

Bill 24 is rotten to the core.I’ve discussed this in detail on this blog. Here’s a précis version:

Bill 24, the bill to kill the ALR, is rotten to the core. Throughout, it reduces the independence of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) and the authority of the chair. Every effect on farmland protection is for the worse. The parts that seem okay are not really changes.

The current chair, Richard Bullock, is a successful farmer, business leader and public servant who has streamlined the commission for results. That has happened in collaboration with agriculture ministers after thorough public consultation and with ongoing reports on progress, made public on the ALC website.

In contrast, the bill would tie up the ALC in knots of directions from the Ministry of Agriculture. The chair, who has been able to veto appointments to the commission, would have no say. Since the bill multiplies the commissioners, politicians could have lackeys in control of the ALC executive committee and panels within two months.

The commission was making progress in ALR boundary reviews, an efficient way to meet real needs. The ALR regulations are also overdue for updating, and the new minister and ALC chair could work with the agricultural industry on that. The bill, not the ALR, should die.

Update, April 23, 2014: Part of this article has now been published in The Vancouver Sun as “Put Bill 24 out to pasture: Agricultural Land Reserve needs to provide more, not less protection,” page B6.

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