Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.


The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Transport ministry biggest threat to Metro Van farmland: report

Provincial transportation projects have been the greatest threat to agricultural land in Metro Vancouver in the past decade, according to the author of a new report titled 'A snapshot of the Agricultural Land Reserve from 2000 – 2009 in the South of Fraser.'

The report analyzed all of the applications for changes in Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) lands in Delta, Barnston Island, the Township and City of Langley, and Surrey, which together represent one of the fastest growing regions in the province.

It found that the provincial government is responsible for 72.8 per cent of all the land in this region that has either been excluded from the ALR or paved over for transportation use. The single largest change to the ALR in the past decade was the approval of the South Fraser Perimeter Road. The 90 hectares of ALR land required for this project represents one third of all land excluded or dedicated for transportation from 2000 to 2009.

"Basically, the ministry of transportation has caused the most reduction in farmland and farmable areas in our region," said Nathan Pachal, the author of the report. "Which I find surprising, given that on one hand the province is supposed to be protecting farmland and then on the other it's causing the most exclusions and change of land use to remove the ability to farm in the future."

Pachal is co-founder of South Fraser OnTrax, a Langley-based non-profit focused on transportation, urban planning and the environment.

According to data he obtained via Freedom of Information, 85.5 hectares of land in the South of Fraser region has been excluded from the ALR since 2000. In the same period, 167 hectares of land within the ALR has been converted to roads or highways. Pachal said that 64.1 per cent of all farmland lost to transportation projects in the region is in Delta.

Tony Pellett, a regional planner with the Agricultural Land Commission, said the commission has the authority to approve or deny any transportation project within the ALR. He said transportation projects count as a "use" within the ALR, but the land these projects occupy is rarely officially excluded from the ALR. Instead, it is typically recorded as "eliminated from farm use."

Pachal said this gives the appearance that there's more land in the ALR being farmed than there actually is.

"If you speak to the average person on the street, they have this idea that private land developers are the ones sort of taking all the land away and building houses," said Pachal. "This report shows that's really not the case. It's the province."

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus