The Hon. Lana Pophan, BC Minister of Agriculture, declared an open season on the Agricultural Land Reserve Act, alias the ALR, and its “handler”, the Agricultural Land Commission, alias ALC. Both are now under review and so it should be. After all, ALR is about half a century old, and while politicians have tweaked it from time to time, the time has come for a review by the people, and possibly giving it a thorough overhaul to boost its prowess to take us into the future.
The ALR has touched the lives of many of us, arguably it has affected the lives of all people who live in BC. Its fate is a serious matter and those of us who may contribute to upgrading the ALR and its administration should get involved. I intentionally used the word “upgrading” because I am of the strong belief that the ALR is a good law and I think that most of my fellow British Columbians support it and would like to see it improved as it can be with the help of what we have learned from the past performance of the ALR and the ALC and to consider it with the reality of fast evolving technology, including farming science.
The review process started with Minister Popham appointing an “Advisory Committee” to drive the process. I am not a Committee enthusiast, but I have some tolerance for the “working” committee species, as distinct from the committee species who are fronts for Consultants. In effect serving to launder and deliver for public consumption the schemes conceived by the hired consultants. Incidentally, sad to say, the latter variety is a prolific invasive species of potentially dire consequences.
The Minister unveiled the Committee on January 4, 2018, which makes it six months old. The committee, we are informed, has already laboured on its mandate but I do not appreciate the way they went about their goal. They requested public input and they opened a web-portal to receive such input. It is here I part company from this Committee for it elected, or was made to function as a black hole.
The Committee did not become a household word nor has it pushed the ALR reform of to the forefront. But, of course, unduly quietly, sad to report, sought and received some public input and quickly shut down the portal by the end of April 2018, by declaring or implying that the public mind had gone instantaneously sterile, and/or that they, the Commitees had all they wanted or needed to know and feared further public input would obfuscate the issues and make the reform counterproductive. Heavy stuff!
They shut down the portal because the purpose of it was to create the illusion of public input, which dispenses with accountability and makes the process “faux democratique”. “We are not screwing you”, the Committee and its makers may say to the irreverent among us who dare ask questions. “We did as you told us to do” they will say, and they will show us an amorphous mush, assuring us that it is made with what we, the people, had told them and which they adroitly had digested for our convenience. In all likelyhood it will reflect a bit of what we told them, in all likelihood it will support what they had in mind to do all along.
It is the Ideas Bank they avoid. Had they done an Ideas Bank, we would know what “we, the People” would have told them, and we would be using it continuously to generate new ideas about a fair and efficient ALR. In all likelyhood, if we had an ALC – ALR Ideas Bank, we would saved the supreme quality land, near that BC Ferries Terminal, these long hectares of Super-Agri-Land which were recently paved over and loaded with concrete and steel to build a shopping “park” lest we suffer a shortage of outlets from which to purchase more of of what we feed to the garbage dumps and to the sewage pipes.