What is the ALR’s Agenda?
“Our purpose is to unlock the potential of our land to sustain a healthy and vibrant community.”
Examples of why we need reform
About four years ago, my family and I moved back to the Tomslake area with the hope of taking over the family farm.
We needed to secure a mortgage to build a house so we started the process by making application to the Peace River Regional District to subdivide a half section of land into two quarter sections. This would give us the necessary collateral to acquire a mortgage.
The Agricultural Land Commissioners came to our farm, asked about five questions and left. About a week later, we were notified that we would not be permitted to split the half section into two quarters because “a quarter section will not make a viable farm”. I inquired as to how much land does make a viable farm however, they had no answer.
The entire process was a joke in our opinion. We were not able to secure a mortgage because we did not own land. We ended up rebuilding an old house that already existed on the farm using our life savings.
We assumed that Government would support us. The family farm is becoming a thing of the past. We want to farm and we would like to think our children will eventually take over the family farm. However, under the current law, it would be impossible for us to use our equity unless we sell out completely and move away. Landowners don’t seem to have much rights on their land.
ALC rejects EnCana Field Office Proposal
EnCana Corporation offered to purchase a 17.27 acre parcel of land bounded by the Old Edmonton Highway to the west, Highway 2 to the East and Siegert Rd. #195 to the North. The 17.27 acre parcel is severed from the remainder of the 32 acre parent parcel by Highway 2. Approximately 5 acres in the southwest corner was not included in the ALR. EnCana offered to put the non-ALR portion of the property into the ALR in exchange for the portion where they intended to construct their office.
Peace River Regional District supported removal of this 17.27 portion from the parent 32 acre parcel, and proposed changes to the Official Community Plan and Zoning By-laws to redesignate and rezone to Highway Commercial, and C-2 General Commercial Zone. PRRD also supported removal of the 12.27 acre portion from the ALR.
The site was chosen for construction of a regional office and parking area. The location was suitable in terms of access from Highway 2 on Siegert Rd. , thus avoiding additional traffic near residences and the school.
The location made sense from a “green perspective.” Rather than have EnCana personnel making the 28 km. trip into Dawson Creek for meetings, the office would have been in the area where the bulk of EnCana’s operations are located.
As one of the owners, Iva Tuttle points out, small pieces like this, which are severed from the remainder by a highway, cannot and are not being properly maintained as agricultural land. Soil capability is 4X.
The irony of the ALC’s refusal to approve removal from the ALR is that it has delegated authority to the OGC to approve industrial use such as well sites and compressor stations, up to 17 acres per quarter section – regardless of soil capability. It could be prime agricultural land, which theTuttle’s property is definitely not.
Interestingly, the ALC, in a site visit, suggested that EnCana put its office beside the church and cemetery and across from residences in the town site, because “it is out of the ALR and we don’t want pressure put on the rest of this piece or these other small pieces for future development.” So much for EnCana’s idea of keeping the traffic away from residences
Bear in mind that this property is within the rural town site of Tomslake, and the benefits to this small community of having commercial development, which could in turn support a re-opening of the store and café.
Property owner Iva Tuttle points out that this proposal was a year in the making, and involved a lot of time and money. It was frustrating to have it turned down in the end for what appears to be a lack of common sense on the part of the ALC.
Read the ALC’s staff report and decision at http://www.alc.gov.bc.ca/assets/alc/assets/applications-and-decisions/search-for-applications-and-decisions/2011-decision-minutes/51893d1.pdf
Links to other related and pertinent information
ALR Membership form
RR1 S3 C26
Dawson Creek BC V1G 4E7