A farmer working agricultural land in Delta. B.C.'s top government watchdog has renewed his call for action to better protect farmland.

A farmer working agricultural land in Delta. B.C.'s top government watchdog has renewed his call for action to better protect farmland.

Foot-dragging on farmland fixes: Auditor

'Negligible progress' on steps to protect ALR

Little to no action has been taken in the year since B.C.’s Auditor General red-flagged a series of big holes in the Agricultural Land Commission’s ability to protect farmland.

Auditor General John Doyle’s original report in the fall of 2010 contained nine recommendations, some of them urging the ALC to fix inaccurate maps of Agricultural Land Reserve boundaries and tighten enforcement against those who degrade farmland.

The commission’s budget has been cut 30 per cent since 2002 and the audit had found the agency is underfunded and understaffed to carry out much of its duties.

But in a new follow-up report, Doyle scolds the inaction over the past year.

Nothing has been done with five recommendations and the rest are only partly implemented.

“I am disappointed that the ALC has made negligible progress,” he said in the report.

The ALC tabled a new strategic vision for the future last November but the proposed new directions are stalled in Victoria because the provincial government has yet to make any decisions.

On all nine of the original recommendations, Doyle’s report says the ALC is “awaiting direction from government.”

The commission is seeking increased funding for several initiatives.

The future food-growing productivity of the ALR continues to be damaged by illegal activity such as the dumping of construction material and tainted fill on farmland.

Doyle previously found the ALC too often gives violators written or verbal warnings instead of issuing orders or fines because it can’t afford to defend tougher measures if they’re challenged in court.

The Lower Mainland has lost eight per cent of its ALR land since the reserve was created in 1973.

Delta South independent MLA Vicki Huntington noted agriculture minister Don McRae said back in May cabinet would review the ALC’s financial needs.

“The Agricultural Land Commission is hobbled, without the resources required to safeguard British Columbia’s indispensable farmland, threatened daily by illegal dumping and development,” Huntington said. “It’s time for the ministry to take action.”

ABOVE: Auditor General John Doyle.

Just Posted

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read