DOWNLOAD A COPY OF: “Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Fifty Years – and miraculously still here: BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve” – released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in April 2023

Note to Reader:

Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the Living Water Smart vision. The edition published on April 18, 2023 celebrated the 50th anniversary of British Columbia’s Agricultural Land Reserve. The ALR is a testament to the incredible foresight demonstrated in 1973. The ALR saved the land and kept the options open for future generations. Without the ALR, there would be no prospect for food security. With the ALR, food security is achievable but only if BC also secures the water supplies needed to irrigate the land that would then provide food security.



BC’s path to food security is thru water security 

April 18th 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Land Commission Act in 1973 and subsequent creation of Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) boundaries.

Most British Columbians do not know a British Columbia without the ALR. We take it for granted and that could be a problem because threats to food security do remain. In addition, we have new challenges such as climate change and water supply sustainability that were not even on the radar screen 50 years ago.

So, what was the rationale and justification for this unprecedented intrusion into rural land use planning? And why is the ALR a testament to the foresight of 1973?

For answers to those questions, we turn to Joan Sawicki, an original employee of the Land Commission, a career land use consultant, and a former provincial cabinet minister.

SOURCE: presentation by Commission Chair Jennifer Dyson and CEO Kim Grout

Keeping the Options Open

“With only about 5% of BC’s land area capable of agricultural use, 50 years ago it was estimated we were losing 6000 hectares per year to non-farm uses. It was clear that local governments could not withstand development pressures upon this scarce provincial resource,” recalls Joan Sawicki.

“With high reliance upon imported food from places like California and Mexico – and the increasing risks related to those sources – BC needed to safeguard its food security by ensuring our limited amount of agricultural land was available for present and future generations.”

“At a time when most other jurisdictions continue to lose their food lands, BC’s ALR remains the most successful agricultural land preservation program in North America. With food security now becoming a top-of-mind public issue, thanks to the foresight demonstrated in 1973 we still have “the land” – and I submit we would not still have the option for viable agricultural sectors in high growth areas like the Lower Mainland or the Okanagan without the ALR.”

“The ALR has been doing exactly what it was designed to do. It is protecting the lands that can grow food and keeping our options open. That was the title of the first Land Commission brochure, Keeping the Options Open. Thanks to the ALR, we still have land use options moving forward.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete story, download a PDF copy of  Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Fifty Years – and miraculously still here: BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve