Gabriola’s farm commission wants to know if there is any way around a provision in provincial law that allows land to be subdivided after it has been leased for a certain amount of time.
At a June 19 meeting at the WI Hall, the Local Trust Committee’s (LTC) Agricultural Advisory Commission (AAC) reviewed a recommendation that the LTC advocate a “land-for-lease” program for those who wish to farm. Agreeing that new farmers face a number of difficulties getting started, especially the cost of land, Trustee Gisele Rudischer, who was at the meeting, warned the commission about the subdivision provision in the Local Government Act.
AAC Chair Veronica Hartman asked if it is possible to change that rule. Rudischer did not think so but suggested the commission ask Planner Chloe Fox.
Commissioner Jenny MacLeod wondered if only allowing the lease to be given for land used for agricultural purposes would resolve the issue. Rudischer said people would simply use the land for agricultural purposes for the required period and then develop the land for other purposes.
Commissioner Sal Dominelli said it would be good for farmers to be able to have the option to buy land they had leased for a period of time, but all commissioners agreed that would only be true if there was some way of ensuring that the land had to remain in agricultural use.
Rudischer said all Gabriola land that is zoned agricultural is in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). She said there may be some protection of farmland on the island because of that. But she noted that even if someone owns ALR land they are not required to farm.
Hartman volunteered to ask Fox about the dilemma.
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