A group of Comox Valley farmers rallied outside Don McRae’s office, then met with the local Liberal MLA on Thursday, to voice their concerns regarding Bill 24 – the Agriculture Land Commission Act.
The “What the Cluck?” rally came complete with live chickens.
Among other things, Bill 24 proposes dividing the province’s Agricultural Land Reserve into two zones.
Zone 1, which includes Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and the Okanagan, would remain protected from non-agricultural development, under Agricultural Land Commission management.
Zone 2, which encompasses the remainder of the province, would be more flexible regarding non-agricultural development, including oil and gas development.
Speaking to the Record on behalf of the farmers, Moss Dance said Thursday’s rally and meeting with McRae was far more than a show of solidarity.
“Yes, our land here on Vancouver Island is protected under this Bill, but this is just the start of things,” she said. “British Columbia is the envy of farmers across the country, because we have protected our farmland since 1973. Bill 24 puts 90 per cent of our farmland at risk for development, gas exploration and non-farm use. We believe that farmland should be used for farming.”
McRae and her fellow farmers then marched up Fifth Street, signs and chickens in hand, and entered McRae’s office for their meeting.
McRae met with the group in the front foyer, and had a respectful exchange before giving them the news they did not want to hear.
To a response of moans, he told the farmers he would be voting in favour of the bill.
“If I felt it was going to be detrimental to the long-term actions of farmers, based on this bill, I would not support it,” he said.
To see a video of the rally and the meeting, go to www.comoxvalleyrecord.com