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Guide for Subdivision Near Farmland | Agricultural Land Commission of BC

Urban Food Strategies worked with the Agricultural Land Commission of BC to update the Guide for Planners and Approving Officers for Subdivisions Near Agriculture (The Guide).

Abstract: The purpose of the Guide is to support Approving Officers (AOs) and local government planners in reviewing and processing applications for subdivision in lands near agriculture. The Guide is also intended for subdivision applicants such as developers, agents, and landowners who are seeking subdivision near agriculture. This is not a guide for subdivision within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

The Guide was originally published in 1996 and updated in 2023 in recognition that a) development near the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) can have significant impacts on the short- and long-term viability of farming and that b) agriculture is an invaluable asset to BC’s culture, economy, and land base.

Although the ALR, formed in 1973, has been instrumental in agricultural land protection and in assuring that there will be a land base for food and fibre production, the ALR does not solve the problems of urban-agricultural conflicts. Agricultural producers must be assured that agriculture is the priority use in the ALR, and both urban and rural sides must develop a better understanding of what it means to live next to working agricultural operations.

Urban development in BC has fueled the need for a coordinated effort to build better relationships between urban and agricultural communities, enhance land use compatibility, and ensure that agriculture has a home for the long-term.

Consistent with the mandate of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to protect agricultural land and farming for future generations, this Guide provides a tool for applying an agricultural lens on evaluating subdivisions that are near to agriculture. Agriculture lands can include ALR lands as well as any lands where agriculture is a permitted use.

Specifically, the objectives of this Guide are to:

  • Provide an overview of key legislation and planning resources that inform and/or impact subdivision near agriculture (e.g. Farm Practices Protection Act, changes to the ALR Use Regulations respecting the dedication and registrations of Right-of-Ways, Guide for Edge Planning)
  • Present considerations for applying an agricultural lens in evaluating subdivision proposals near agriculture, and near the ALR generally
  • Create an understanding of potential conflicts and proactive planning responses at the urban-agricultural interface
  • Help to increase consistency in subdivision near agriculture applications • Create better outcomes for farmers and agricultural land, which in turn benefits communities and natural ecosystems • Enable long-range planning that considers and values agriculture

Completed 2023