To the editor:
‘When you are up to your *** in alligators it is easy to forget your main objective was to drain the swamp.’
The concept of Agricultural Land Reserve is a noble ideal which has been poorly executed. The object was to preserve farmland for future generations.
The result of our efforts so far has been to force up the price of farmland so that it has become difficult, if not impossible, to make a living on anything but a large acreage of the very best land. Owners of land are forced to grow the cheapest and easiest crop possible in order to minimize their property taxes.
This is how the system is designed. It is not a loophole. It is the only thing that encourages small farms. It is no wonder that people view five to 10 acre parcels as a large lot on which they can build a big house. It is the only reasonable response to the current rules. What gets rewarded is what gets done.
Recently the ALC has permitted some secondary uses for farmland. We have seen applications for recreational use RV pads in orchards, etc. The stipulation is always that this is not the primary income from the property.
I fail to see why that is important to the ALC. Why not get creative and let the landowner create some real income, as long as the use serves to preserve farmland in case it becomes viable in the future. Right now an owner of land in the ALR needs to have a job to support his farming habit.
Let’s get real and let the land owner make some money. This will encourage the preservation of farmland for the future which was the original object of the ALR, not to cause hardship on landowners.
Currently the landowners are bearing all the costs of preserving farmland and their only possible benefit is from the future sale of the land.
Think about it—would you buy five acres to farm if all you can accomplish is losing money?
Governments need to encourage what they want not, make it more difficult. Make it economically viable to hold farmland for future use. If we do not need it now, but may in the future, we should allow a variety of uses that do not harm the land until it is required. Don’t bankrupt the farmer, help him to do toady what helps us all out in the future. Encourage the behaviour you want don’t punish it.
Bert Chapman, Kelowna