Farm regulator raising fees, adding enforcement

ALC chair Frank Leonard says some farmers waiting two years for a decision, changes to restore 'credibility' to commission

Agricultural Land Commission chair Frank Leonard

The Agricultural Land Commission is imposing a steep increase in application fees, with a “money back guarantee” if applications aren’t processed within 90 business days.

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick and ALC chair Frank Leonard announced the new policy at the B.C. legislature Thursday, to take effect April 1.

For zone one, the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan, the application fee goes from $600 to $1,500. In zone two, the remainder of the province, the fee goes from $600 to $900. Letnick said the majority of farm income is generated in zone one, so farmers can afford to pay more.

The increase still doesn’t cover the estimated $3,000 cost of processing an application, most of which are for non-farm use or an exclusion or subdivision of agricultural land. Letnick said the province is adding an additional $1.1 million to the ALC budget to make up the difference.

Leonard, appointed last year after Letnick terminated the contract of long-time chair Richard Bullock, said he found almost no decisions were being made within the 60 working days that is his new benchmark. Most were taking a year or more.

“I met people in their 80s who had been waiting two years for a decision,” he said.

NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham said she’s concerned that the short deadline for commission decisions is a drift toward becoming an “application machine” rather than the ALC’s mandate to protect farmland.

Leonard said subdivision and land exclusion applications mean considerable financial gain for applicants, so the increased fee isn’t a deterrent for them. Letnick said approved non-farm uses can mean extra income for farmers and are a priority for the government.

The ALC has doubled its compliance and enforcement staff to four, and Leonard said the additional budget will allow him to add two more this year.

“Our intention is not only to give the ALC more credibility in terms of enforcing legislation and regulations, but with the budget we have we’ll be able to get them around the province,” Leonard said. “So we won’t have six people in Burnaby waiting for the phone to ring.”

The commission is also adding new fees, $150 for reviewing documents, $350 per site inspection and monitoring fees of $500 to $2,000 annually for sites that require ongoing monitoring such as soil fill and removal or gravel extraction.

 

Just Posted

Police call Appledale death a homicide

But few other details being released

Fire engulfs car on weekend

No one injured in incident

Nelson rejects plastic bag ban, opts for education and awareness

Council will collaborate with Chamber of Commerce

UPDATE: Mayor says plastic-bag ban bylaw will be delayed

Ruling throws bylaw in limbo, but Moore committed to moving forward

Nelson U-Haul shutting down

Kootenay Glass and Mirror will no longer provide the service as of July 12

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

B.C.-wide police efforts identify Vancouver Island robbery suspect

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Most Read