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.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Pods’ set up at Surrey homeless centre

Temporary shelter set up in April to help stop the spread of COVID-19

Suspect sought in alleged indecent act in South Surrey

Police say incident occurred near 13 Avenue and 131 Street

New video evidence in Surrey man’s West Kelowna murder trial shown in court

The defence closed its case following the playing of the video in court, marking the end of the evidentiary phase of the trial

IHIT investigating ‘suspicious’ death of Surrey man

Officers found a body in the 11300-block of Bridgeview Drive: Surrey RCMP

PHOTOS: White Rock Farmers’ Market ‘welcomes all vendors’

Relaxing pandemic restrictions mean full spectrum of vendors can return to uptown market: manager

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

Most Read