Farmland under pressure with development of Site C, LNG: former Agricultural Land Commission chair

The former chair of the Agricultural Land Commission says B.C.'s pristine farming land is in danger of being used for projects with the potential for environmental damage.

'Huge pressure put on those lands particularly in the northeast with LNG and oil,' says Richard Bullock

B.C.'s pristine farming land is in danger of being used for projects with the potential for environmental damage, says Richard Bullock. (CBC)

The former chair of the Agricultural Land Commission says B.C.'s pristine farming land is in danger of being used for projects with the potential for environmental damage. 

"There's going to be huge pressure put on those lands particularly in the northeast with LNG and oil being such a dominant force within our government today," Richard Bullock told Rick Cluff on CBC's The Early Edition.

This increased pressure is due to a March 2014 decision by the B.C. government to divide agricultural land into two zones. 

  • Zone 1: Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Okanagan and Vancouver Island
  • Zone 2: Northern B.C., Kootenays, and rest of the Interior.
Former ALC chair Richard Bullock is concerned about increasing development on B.C.'s farmland. (CBC)

Zone 1 is classified as prime farmland, but zone 2 now allows for more non-farming activities on the land. Bullock says this is problematic because half of B.C.'s agriculture is located in the northeastern part of the province. 

The proposed Site C Dam will take more than 4,000 hectares of agricultural Crown land. Bullock says the dam should be built elsewhere in the province because this will be the third dam on the Peace River. 

"That valley in fact is probably one of nature's beautiful creations," he said. 

A political firing

Bullock was fired by the B.C. government in May 2015. He says he still does not know why he was let go, but that perhaps some people did not agree with how he was doing his job.

"That came up against, I assume, some people," he said. 

Bullock told the CBC in May 2014 that the government told him regulation changes were coming and they felt new leadership was needed

The Agricultural Land Commission, formerly known as the Agricultural Land Reserve, was created by the NDP in the early 70s to protect B.C.'s farmland from industrial and urban development.


To hear more, click the audio labelled: Former chair of the Agricultural Land Commission says LNG and Site C dam threatens farmland.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Richard Bullock was fired in 2014. In fact, he was fired in May 2015.
    Jul 29, 2015 10:00 AM PT

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