[Update 30 May 2014 - The BC government passed Bill 24 yesterday (May 29th), after forcing closure. Thank you so much to everyone who wrote - either using our action form or on your own - to tell the government that this Bill did not protect agricultural land. We have removed the Action form at the end of this post. For more information on why Bill 24 does not protect Agricultural Land read our alert: Why amendments to Bill 24 don't protect agricultural land.]
[Updated 27 May 2014 to reflect the Legislature’s decision to close debate on Bill 24 this Thursday (May 29th)]
The BC government has decided to close debate on Bill 24, which would make changes to the Agricultural Land Commission Act that put our agriculture and local food at risk.
If passed, these changes would restrict the role of the independent chair of the Agricultural Land Commission, one of BC’s biggest agricultural champions. They would also divide provincial agricultural lands into two zones, significantly weakening agricultural land protection in one of those zones.
The problem? That “zone” contains 90% of the province’s agricultural land reserve lands, and 85% of its lands capable of growing a range of crops.
The government wants to pass Bill 24 this Thursday afternoon. Thousands of people from across the province have opposed the Bill and asked for further consultation before these controversial changes become law. You have only a few hours to ask to have your voice heard on this important matter.
Decisions affecting how agricultural land reserve lands are used must ensure the protection of agricultural values. Even with recent amendments that the government says address public concerns, the Bill still requires that industrial and other interests be considered alongside agricultural values for decisions concerning agricultural land in this zone.
British Columbians are facing increasing threats to food security due to flooding, droughts and other climate change-related disasters. Experts say that our northern farmlands – the lands in Zone 2 – are integral to our ability to feed ourselves in the near future. Rather than increase protection of those crucial farmlands, Bill 24 reduces their protection for the short-term gain of urban development or industries.
Tell the BC government the debate isn’t over, and that BC’s farm lands need more, not less, legal protection. The fact that the government has already made change to Bill 24 – inadequate though they are –demonstrates that MLAs are concerned about public opposition to weakening protection for agricultural lands. Urge the decision-makers to not bring into effect these dangerous changes to our laws protecting agricultural lands!