Anshu Arora LLM, MSc, PMP

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Permitted Uses in the ALR

The ALR is a provincial land-use zone where agriculture is the priority use. The ALR comprises just 5% of BC’s total land base and is the area with the greatest agricultural capacity. As a finite and valuable resource, the province has decided to protect this land.

Not all agricultural lands are created equal and not all agricultural land is capable of or suitable for producing all agricultural products. Some agricultural land is more suitable for certain crops than others. British Columbia's diverse agriculture industry needs all classes of land to thrive. There are three dominant limiting factors in British Columbia:

  1. Climate - Climate is defined by the heat energy and moisture inputs available for agricultural production.
  2. Soil variability - Soil properties and characteristics affect the land’s ability to sustain agricultural products.
  3. Topography - Topography can limit access and the ability to use cultivation equipment.

Physical, chemical and biological inputs are essential to agricultural systems, and are ultimately supplied by the soil, moisture, the sun (in the forms of light and heat energy), plants, animals and biological agents. In productive agricultural systems these inputs are necessarily controlled, to the extent possible, through appropriate agricultural practices. The more capably the land base provides and sustains these inputs, the more capable and productive the land is as agricultural land.

The Agricultural Land Reserve Use Regulation B.C. Reg 30/2019 identifies uses of ALR land. ALR land owners who wish to pursue other uses or to subdivide their property must make an application under the Agricultural Land Commission Act (the "ALC Act") and secure approval from the ALC.

Anyone purchasing or owning land in the ALR for non-agricultural purposes or strictly rural residential use, should be aware that the business of agriculture is the primary land use and normal farm/ranch practices are protected. For example, that means the noise, dust and odours that may arise from agricultural businesses are to be expected. The Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act enables the pursuit and continuation of normal farm/ranch practices, despite complaints from neighbours.

Should you wish to purchase agricultural land, you should confirm the ALR status of the parcel.  If the land is in the ALR be aware that land uses are restricted and agriculture is the priority use. To fully understand these restrictions, please review the ALC Act and the ALR Regulations.

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