Coping with spin about Bill 24

A friend of Garden City who had written to government MLA John Yap to oppose Bill 24 got back his standard message. It is a slick message with the basic shortcomings that (a) Bill 24 is wrecking ball hitting the more modern steps that the Agricultural Land Commission was taking (b) the panel provisions forces the commission from a system designed to make reliable decisions to one that was unreliable.

In any case, here are John Yap’s thoughts and then a bit about an environmental lawyer’s response to the amendments that John Yap is trumpeting.

Thank you for your email.  Our goal has always been to support agriculture and the people who work in it.

After hearing from the agricultural sector and the Minister personally reading letters from British Columbians, amendments were required to provide clarity about Bill 24’s intentions.  Our changes give the ALC Chair more flexibility in referring applications to the ALC’s executive committee, made up of the Chair and six regional vice chairs, for decisions.  The changes also make the law clear that farmland preservation is the ALC’s first priority and ensure panels make decisions in the best interest of agriculture.

Bill 24, the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, will help farmers grow their business and earn a better living, support farming families in continuing to produce food on their land and gives the Commission the modern tools it needs to continue making independent land use decisions.

Lawyer Andrew Gage of WCELThat is the standard spin from that government MLA.

Lawyer Andrew Gage’s response is “Why amendments to Bill 24 don’t protect agricultural land.”

The whole point of the Agricultural Land Reserve is to reserve (protect) agricultural land for agriculture. Andrew Gage shows that the amendments don’t provide that protection.

They make the harm from Bill 24 a bit less bad, but that doesn’t turn it into a good bill.

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