Editorial: Chemainus campground a case for use of discretion by ALC

It would be a different matter if the owners had bought a working, or even dormant farm

We are fully in support of maintaining the agricultural land reserve in British Columbia.

Without it, this province would face a future of having no capability of feeding ourselves. Already, we are dependent on an uncomfortable amount of imports, and thus the volatility of the political and environmental climates in far-off places.

But there needs to be common sense applied when looking at cases such as the Chemainus River Campground. The campground is threatened with closure, as it seems technically, the land they are occupying is within the ALR. However, this seems to be more of a bureacratic map-making oddity than a look at reality. The property never has been used for farming, what with being covered in trees and all.

The purpose of the ALR is vital. Without it, thousands and thousands of acres of land that needs to be used to grow and raise food, one of the basics of life, would have been lost to development, both industrial and urban/suburban. This was where land-use was trending when the ALR was created with great foresight, beginning in 1973. At that time nearly 6,000 hectares of agricultural land was being lost every year. Land pressures and prices have only increased, not decreased with time. As it is, the ALR makes up only about five per cent of the province.

But it makes no sense to shut down a viable business in a community that has been operating for years, when nobody wants it gone. It would be a different matter if the owners had bought a working, or even dormant farm, and plunked down a campground in the middle of a potato field. But that’s not what happened. Realistically, this is not going to become a farm.

This is a clear case where an exception should be made — really an error righted. That’s why we have real human beings at the Agricultural Land Commission, so they can use some discretion. The community is united on this one. Make the right choice.

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