In an effort to preserve B.C.’s agricultural land and to encourage farming, the provincial Agricultural Land Commission is shifting the way it does business.
Last fall, legislative changes enabled the ALC to expand opportunities for farmers and ranchers. For instance, the commission can increase enforcement within the Agricultural Land Reserve by involving officials from other government agencies and levels of government.
“I need your help,” ALC chair Richard Bullock told the regional district board Tuesday.
He noted the “psychological shift” that comes with the changes.
“I’d like you to make that shift with us,” Bullock said.
New legislation places a five-year moratorium on repeat applications to the ALC. Bullock wants a serious decrease in the hundreds of applications it processes each year.
Along with the local agriculture sector, he commended Comox Valley MLA/B.C. Agriculture Minister Don McRae for being a “tremendous supporter of what we do.”
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The board approved submitting an application to the Province for a water licence increase on behalf of the Comox Valley sub-regional water supply system.
The other option is a regional approach.
Noting the complications of purchasing water from BC Hydro through the penstock, Area B director Jim Gillis suggested the board is being shortsighted and needs to consider Cumberland, Royston and the K’ómoks First Nation. He would like more information from the technical committee.
Courtenay directors Jon Ambler and Starr Winchester are both satisfied with how the document is written.
“We can’t apply for Cumberland,” Winchester said. “I think it’s time we moved on with it.”
“My position has always been regional,” Area C director/board chair Edwin Grieve said. “I think that’s where our future lies.”
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The board supports the City of Courtenay’s application for implementing an additional hotel room tax.
The City is in the process of considering applying to the Province for the additional tax. The rate to be imposed is up to two per cent and is for accommodation rentals within the city boundary. Intended use of funds collected are to fund tourism marketing, programs and projects, including the financing and operation of new tourism facilities.
The item stems from a request to Courtenay council from the Comox Valley Economic Development Society and hotel representatives.