After four years of work and two public hearings the Area A Agricultural Land Reserve Pilot Project has come to a successful conclusion with a Delegation Agreement with the Agricultural Land Commision (ALC) and a block exclusion of properties that were deemed of low agricultural value.
In 2007, Area A director Mike Sosnowski asked the ALC to enter into a pilot project to review the ALR boundaries and policies in the Elk Valley. The ALC agreed to the project and it began in 2008, this was the first time the ALC and a Regional Government have ever partnered in a agricultural land review. Regional District staff set about ground truthing the ALR boundaries in the lower Elk Valley and reviewing the current policies of the ALR.
The second part of the project was the ALR Boundary review. After determining areas in the Elk Valley that were of low agricultural value a public hearing was held and people within these areas were asked if they wanted to remain in the ALR or not. If they wanted to be excluded they had to sign a letter requesting that they be part of the “Application for Block exclusion from the ALR.” Last month the ALC excluded 32 of the 36 properties that made up the exclusion application
Highlights of the Delegation agreement:
Area A’ Agricultural Land Reserve Delegation Agreement
• The agreement is between the Regional District East Kootenay (RDEK) and the Agricultural Land Commission and applies to Electoral Area A.
• The initial term of the agreement is for two years (August 2010 to August 2012) with the intention that it be renewed for an open ended term after the trial period.
• The agreement delegates decision making authority from the Agricultural Land Commission to the RDEK Board of Directors.
• Specifically, the Board is empowered to make decisions on certain types of ALR subdivision and non-farm use applications.
• The Board’s ALR Subdivision and non-farm use decisions must be consistent with the ALR Act and policies, the RDEK’s Elk Valley Zoning Bylaw and the terms and conditions of the agreement.
• As a result of the agreement, the RDEK has lowered the fee for some non-farm use applications by 50% (to $300 from $600).
• Has the ability to sometimes reduce the time it takes for applications by six months.
This projects template for ALR Review is now being used by other jurisdictions through out the area and the province.
“It took persistence to see this project to finish. It has streamlined the process for many ALR applications and reduced their cost. It has also given residents with low value agricultural property the ability to have a choice on their land,” says Mike Sosnowski. “I would like to thank our MLA Bill Bennett who took a keen interest in this project and was integral to it’s conclusion. Also, the RDEK planning staff for doing a tremendous job,” he concludes.