The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Canada needs more independent media. And independent media needs you.

Did you know that most news organizations in Canada are owned by just a handful of companies? And that these companies have been shutting down newsrooms and laying off reporters continually over the past few decades?

Fact-based, credible journalism is essential to our democracy. Unlike many other newsrooms across the country, The Tyee’s independent newsroom is stable and growing.

How are we able to do this? The Tyee Builder program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip into our editorial budget so that we can keep doing what we do best: fact-based, in-depth reporting on issues that matter to our readers. No paywall. No junk. Just good journalism.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to be Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
Opinion

BC Libs Protect Farmland? Horse Manure!

You can bet the farm they'll sell out the Agricultural Land Reserve... again.

By Bill Tieleman 8 Apr 2014 | TheTyee.ca

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist whose clients include unions and businesses in the resource and public sector. Tieleman is a regular Tyee contributor who writes a column on B.C. politics every Tuesday in 24 Hours newspaper. E-mail him at weststar@telus.net or visit his blog.

"It functioned up until the election of this Liberal administration... politics has interfered and land is being removed and that is a serious, serious mistake." -- Former NDP premier Dave Barrett, Voice Of BC, June 29, 2005

Don't believe the BC Liberal government will "protect farmland" or "help farmers" -- its Bill 24 is all about continuing its attack the Agricultural Land Reserve, which began shortly after the party's 2001 election win.

Former NDP premier Dave Barrett wasn't fooled back in 2005, and no one should be fooled today by the nonsensical bafflegab spun by cabinet minister Bill Bennett, who introduced legislation to carve up farmland for use by industry and developers while undermining the Agricultural Land Commission's independence from political interference.

Bill 24 would split B.C. into two zones with very different rules on removing farmland protected by the ALR. The bill enables government to use "economic, cultural and social values" and "regional and community planning objectives" or "other prescribed conditions" decided by cabinet to plough ahead with farmland removal.

Bennett is unlikely to stop at one radical change to the ALR, which currently applies to Zone 2 of B.C. -- the Interior, the North and the Kootenays.

Just wait for the other shoe to drop in Zone 1, including the South Coast, Okanagan and Vancouver Island, where B.C.'s most productive land that creates 85 per cent of farm receipts is under enormous pressure from developers and industry.

Ministers of manure

Bennett is the minister responsible for a "core review" of government and is clearly driving his anti-ALR agenda, first made clear eight years ago.

There has always been a defined process for removing farmland from the ALR, which protects five per cent of B.C. Thousands of hectares have been exempted since it was introduced in 1974, mostly from areas with the most productive soil.

Before the ALR's creation, B.C. lost about 6,000 hectares of farmland each year. But it's not like the ALR stopped the loss of all farmland, particularly in southern B.C.

Between 1974 and 2013, Metro Vancouver lost 5,910 hectares of farmland and the Fraser Valley 5,083 hectares, according to ALC reports, while overall land protected has shrunk by 94,795 hectares since 1974.

But Bennett doesn't care, preferring to claim that the ALR is some bureaucratic nightmare that preserves useless land simply to penalize its impoverished owners. "There is some land within the Agricultural Land Reserve that actually is useless to agriculture," Bennett said.

"That land could be located in a region where there's six months of winter. In some cases the land is covered by forest. I've seen land within the reserve that's mountainous. It's steep. It's rocky. It's swampy. It has really poor-quality soil and no feasible access to water."

Oh the horror! Poverty-stricken farmers forced to plant crops on rocks and swampland because of evil rules written in Victoria to keep them in serfdom!

What horse manure from Bennett, who last year described the opposition as "turds" on Twitter!

If Bennett isn't bad enough, last year Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm was admonished by the Agricultural Land Commission for attempting to "politically influence" an attempt to removed protected farmland from the ALR to build a rodeo and recreational vehicle campsite.

And despite the commission rejecting the application, Arizona developer Terry McLeod built a race track, parking lot and seating for 3,000 people anyway, apparently completely confident the BC Liberal government would do nothing to stop him. Obviously, he was correct.

Bennett and Pimm's legislation could soon pass, so support the protection of B.C. farmland by letting your MLA know and signing a petition online here.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free.

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Do You Think the Injunction at Fairy Creek Will Be Reinstated?

Take this week's poll