The City of Pitt Meadows is urging the province to protect, enhance, adequately fund and enforce B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve while the government tries to allay fears of its demise.
Mayor Deb Walters got unanimous support for a motion Tuesday that will the see the city send a letter to the premier, Minister of Agriculture and other agencies reiterating the city’s support for the provincial Agricultural Land Commission, an agency responsible for protecting 4.7 million hectares of farmland.
Walters’ support for the independent commission comes after the Globe and Mail obtained a leaked cabinet document that recommended putting the commission under direct government control and spitting the protected land reserve.
Energy Minister Bill Bennett is currently conducting a “core review” of the B.C. government that will consider redrawing ALR boundaries.
Walters wants to make sure the city is included in those discussions.
“We just want to make sure, with 86 per cent of our land base in the ALR, that we have some input,” she said Tuesday.
City councillor Doug Bing, who is also the MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, sought to soothe “some exaggerated fears” raised by the leaked document.
“It is false that there are plans to get rid of the ALR,” he stressed, during a televised council meeting.
“There was an interim document that was leaked to the press. This document was immediately rejected and regarded as unacceptable. It ended up in the garbage and somebody retrieved it and sent it to the Globe and Mail.”
Bing explained that the provincial government was only making sure the Agricultural Land Commission was “being run efficiently and in the best interest of the public.”
“That is the purpose of the core review,” he added.
“I have been assured by Mr. Bennett that the Agricultural Land Reserve will still be there for us and that there will be very little, if any change to it.”