(Black Press Media file photo)

(Black Press Media file photo)

‘Besieged’ B.C. farmland needs protection from oil and gas sector: report

Agriculture Ministry released final report that makes 32 recommendations

An independent report on agricultural revitalization in British Columbia is calling for a task force to address the “imbalance” between oil and gas development and agriculture in the province’s northeast.

The Agriculture Ministry released the final report today that makes 32 recommendations related to the province’s Agricultural Land Commission and Reserve.

It calls for the proposed task force to review how to balance the surface rights of farmers and ranchers with subsurface rights of the extractors, and to deliver a strategy to address “the significant resource extraction issues” affecting farmland in the Peace Region.

In a letter introducing the report, committee chair and former Independent MLA Vicki Huntington calls for a government-wide policy shift that identifies B.C.’s agricultural land and industry as equivalent to other natural resources.

READ MORE: Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Huntington says the oil and gas industry has had a significant and growing impact in the northeast and the development of the energy sector has exceeded the capacity of the current regulatory environment to protect farmland.

The report recommends the Energy and Agriculture ministries, the Agricultural Land Commission and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission work together to develop a healthier relationship that respects not only the energy industry, but also the “increasingly besieged agriculture industry.”

“Surface and subsurface infrastructure expansion is progressing exponentially and activities that were once temporary have become permanent industrial sites built on farmland and next to farm communities,” the letter says.

“The cumulative impact is making it increasingly difficult for many farmers and ranchers to effectively use their land.”

The proposed task force should review how farmers and ranchers might be given authority to influence negotiations on the location of oil and gas facilities and infrastructure, and complete an impact assessment of all oil and gas activity within the ALR, the report says.

Other recommendations include consideration of directing a portion of royalties from oil and gas development in the ALR to a regional agricultural development fund and creating an agreement between the ALC and Oil and Gas Commission for sharing impact assessments and other information.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham says in a statement the government has already acted on 13 recommendations released in an interim report, including passing laws aimed at keeping farmland affordable and cracking down on illegal dumping.

“I want to thank the committee for its dedication and the thoughtful recommendations made in this report,” said the statement says.

“Our government is committed to helping farmers farm. We asked the committee members to provide advice on how the ALR and ALC can provide the best support for farmers, ranchers and producers to ensure B.C.’s agricultural sector continues to thrive, and they delivered.”

The committee commissioned to complete the report consists of eight British Columbians with diverse agricultural backgrounds and experience.

More than 2,300 British Columbians responded to the committee’s online discussion paper and survey, and the committee also received over 270 written submissions.

The committee held engagement sessions with local governments and agricultural stakeholders in nine communities throughout the province and met with the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the ALC.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

That’s Houston physician Dr. Stefanie Steel receiving her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Jan. 19, 2021 from RN nurse manager Cindy Cockle. (Northern Health photo)
First Houston vaccinations take place

Long term care residents, health care workers on list

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Most Read