About the program
British Columbia has its population concentrated in two areas of the province; the Okanagan-Shuswap-Thompson area and Lower Mainland-South Eastern Vancouver Island. These two areas contain 2.7% of the land base and over 80% of the population and over 80% of the farm gate receipts.
Our most intensive farming is happening in the same area where most British Columbians live. There are more non-farm residents living in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) than farmers.
Farms come with disturbances such as odour, noise, and dust. With the close proximity between farms and urban areas there is a greater potential for complaints regarding farm practices. In addressing these issues, there needs to be a balance between farming and non-farming interests while recognizing that the ALR is an area where the priority use is farming and non-farming activities are controlled. Key to this balance is neighbours respecting their neighbours.
During the mid-1990s, the Province established a collection of legislative tools and opportunities, including the Strengthening Farming Program, to reinforce support for local governments, first nations and farm communities in order to protect and enhance agriculture throughout British Columbia. Working in coordination with the Agricultural Land Commission, the program continues to provide this important effort, with the goal to help secure farming and ranching’s place in B.C. communities, promote the use of normal farm practices and in doing so support sustainable and economically viable agriculture.
The Strengthening Farming Program's main objectives are to:
- Foster strong partnerships between local governments, the farm and ranching community and the province;
- Support the right to farm within the agriculture and licensed aquaculture areas of the province;
- Encourage a more prominent role for agriculture in local government planning processes and foster local government policy and regulation supporting farming;
- Improve land use compatibility between farm and non-farm uses;
- Encourage greater focus by local governments on the positive resolution of farm issues; and
- improve agriculture awareness.
In April of 1996, The Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) (FPPA) Act was passed by the Legislature and came into force. Along with the FPPA, consequential amendments were made at the same time to the Municipal Act (now Local Government Act) and the Land Title Act. The Agricultural Land Commission Act, dating to 1973, also provides important context for the Strengthening Farming Program.