Our View: ALR needs defenders

The government is looking for input on the ALR.

The B.C. government is hosting public engagement talks soon on the state and future of the Agricultural Land Reserve.

It doesn’t hurt to speak up and make your voice heard in times like these.

The ALR is one of the defining institutions of this province, particularly of its rural farming communities, and of outer suburbs like Langley, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.

If the ALR had not been implemented in the 1970s, it’s not hard to imagine what the Lower Mainland would look like today. Vast areas of what is today green space would have been chewed up and turned into housing.

We have had plenty of suburban development over the years. But we also still have hundreds of working farms, some a stone’s throw from busy subdivisions, schools, and shopping malls.

The Lower Mainland has better food security today because of the ALR. Everything from poultry and hogs to dairy cattle to hay, hops, grapes, corn, and hothouse vegetables comes from our very own Fraser Valley farms.

The ALR has also given those of us who don’t live on farms the opportunity to experience the countryside, often a short walk or bike ride from our front doors.

Yet there is continuous pressure to remove land from the ALR. The reasons often sound solid. Housing is in short supply and expensive, and the ALR is one part of that equation.

But once buried in cement and asphalt, farmland is gone.

Now would be a good time to remind our leaders of that vital fact.

– M.C.

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