The Thompson-Nicola Regional District has directed its staff to create an Agriculture Advisory Commission. The new body will comment on applications involving agricultural land and matters directly relating to the regional agricultural industry.
John Ranta, the chair of TNRD’s board of directors, says the regional district’s staff are feeling “a bit unsettled” about the direction they’re receiving with development applications involving land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
He said that after the province amended the Agricultural Land Commission Act last year and split the province into Section 1 and 2, the TNRD has had a number of applications for subdivisions or other development in the either in the ALR.
What has changed, he said, is that instead of forwarding all applications directly to the Ministry of Agriculture for consideration, the TNRD is now being asked to review the application and forward its recommendations.
“There is now a need for a meeting of minds between the board and planning department for applications in ALR,” said Ranta, “so we’re on a more compatible approach.”
As the amendment took effect this year, placing the Interior and Kootenays into Section 2 along with the North, the province replaced long time chair of the Agricultural Land Commission Richard Bullock with Frank Leonard.
Leonard spoke to the board of directors recently, “and he gave us his perspective,” said Ranta. For one thing, “He wants to speed up the consideration process.”
The Agriculture Advisory Commission will help with that, Ranta said. “We’ll be able to have knowledgeable people – an opinion group with a focus and knowledge of agriculture – to advise us.”
There is no deadline to have the advisory commission in place. He says the TNRD isn’t expecting a rush of applications for ALR development. The economy has been quiet and no one seems interesting in investing.
TNRD staff is still investigating how to go about setting up the commission and then find members for it. He says it is the board’s hope that having an advisory commission will help crystallize their approach to land use.