Our View: ALR rules good first step

There are other issues with saving agricultural land.

Victoria has introduced some new regulations this week that are aimed at preserving more farmland in this province.

It’s a good first step, but it remains to be seen if it will make enough of an impact.

Over the past few years, multiple factors eroded farmland, particularly here in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, where working farms are patchworked between tracts of suburbia.

The new regulation goes after mega-mansions of more than 5,400 square feet being built on farmland, and cracks down on dumping. It also aims to go after speculation in agricultural land.

We’ve seen that last factor at play here in Langley more than a few times. Perfectly good land lies fallow for years, as FOR SALE signs are thrown up. Land at the interface between residential land and the Agricultural Land Reserve is particularly vulnerable. There’s always someone new who can be convinced the land might be extracted from the ALR and then profitably subdivided into new residential lots.

There are still other issues that aren’t addressed by the legislation, however.

Greenhouse’s in Langley that used to grow hothouse vegetables are being converted to growing marijuana for the new commercial and medical markets.

And greenhouses themselves can be an issue. While they’re a permitted agricultural use, concrete-slab construction paves over soil, sealing it off as surely as if we’d put up a parking lot.

The NDP’s new regulations are a good start, but saving farmland will be an ongoing fight.

– M.C.

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