Country Life in BC

October 2018

Right to Farm Act review cancelled

by Peter Mitham

VICTORIA  – Victoria, which quietly initiated a review of the province’s Right to Farm legislation in 2015, has just as quietly shelved the project.

The change of government last year brought a change of priorities.

“Over the past year, the BC government has taken a fresh approach to preserving agriculture land in BC and encouraging farming and ranching,” communications staff with the BC Ministry of Agriculture told Country Life in BC. “Rather than looking at one aspect such as the Right to Farm Act, it was determined that a thorough review of the [Agricultural Land Reserve] and [Agricultural Land Commission] was needed.”

Officially known as the BC Farm Practices Protection Act, the legislation was originally passed in 1996 and has never been reviewed. The province undertook an initial round of discussions with local governments regarding the act, then sat down with industry in September 2015.

While municipalities welcome the review, noting that not all local governments were treated equally under the act, Reg Ens of the BC Agriculture Council was cautious.

“It’s definitely not perfect, but we want to make sure the ministry understands what they’re getting into,” he said at the time, likening the review to opening Pandora’s box.

Agriculture ministry staff said last year that the review pointed to a need to clarify the act and its regulations, which “are complicated and not always easily understood.”

Complaints brought forward under the act are adjudicated by the BC Farm Industry Review Board. These frequently involve noise, odour and other issues on the rural-urban interface.