Revelstoke’s Agricultural Land Reserve Public Forum was held on Thursday, March 15th at the Revelstoke Community Centre with the purpose of collecting input for the Ministry of Agriculture’s ALR/ALC Revitalization Committee.
The Forum was led by Melissa Hemphill, Food Security Coordinator with the Community Connections (Revelstoke) Society. This forum was the idea of Melissa’s, with no financial or content contribution from the ALR/ALC Revitalization Committee or the Ministry of Agriculture.
The discussion paper released by the Revitalization Committee was used to both inform and structure the forum. The forum was advertised publicly through social media and posters around the community of Revelstoke. Registration was taken to plan for providing lunch, but drop-ins were welcome. 32 members of the public attended, plus two members of the media.
The forum began with a brief introductory presentation by Melissa Hemphill to give context to the event and guidelines for participation. The key issues identified in the discussion paper were used to stimulate discussion in three breakout sessions with the participants. Each table of participants included a table-host and a recorder.
While there was a mixture of interests and personalities in the room, there was general support for the ALC/ALR. Attendees wanted to see the ALC strengthened as to not lose more ALR to development, but also remain open enough to allow for local consultation and adaptation to future climate and economic changes.
Concerns were raised over the cost of land and hence its viability for farming, as well as what is considered “agriculture” – strictly food, or any crop that can be grown. There was recognition of the importance of food security as an issue for BC and the need to protect water sources and productive land. There was strong support for incentivizing food production within the ALR.
There was support for many different non-farm uses, as long as they did not impact the long-term potential for the land to be used for food production. Concerns over residences on ALR land centered around allowing workers and family to live on the land for succession purposes, but to not have large estate homes built on productive lands.