UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Agricultural land preservation and urban development in the new fringe : a case study of small lot farming in Kelowna, British Columbia Grifone, Edward


In 1973, the Province of British Columbia enacted the Agricultural Land Commission Act (ALC) implementing the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to curb consumption of agricultural land by urban encroachment. The Central Okanagan was one of the main areas in the province where agriculture lands warranted protection. Today, the conflict between urbanization and agriculture is still simmering especially in Kelowna where 40% of the city’s land base is within the ALR. The objective of this thesis is to understand the impact of the ALR on the inner fringe where urban and agricultural uses vie for the same land base. Four research questions are posed to understand the implications of agricultural land preservation within a Kelowna: (i) Is agricultural land preservation working in the inner fringe; (ii) Is urban sprawl being avoided; (iii) Is farming being advanced in the inner fringe; and (iv) Can small lot farming play a role to help advance farming in the inner fringe? The mixed methods case study approach employs a combination of qualitative methods, including personal interviews with city planners, developers and farmers; and empirical methods including a spatial analysis of two ALR study blocks that are under pressure of urbanization. The research results suggest that land sales speculation in the inner fringe ALR continues to undermine agricultural land preservation goals. The ALR has helped avoid urbanization of inner fringe agricultural lands, however, suburban, low density residential neighbourhoods continue to grow as a result of leapfrog development, market demand, and municipal policy for low density development. Although inner fringe agricultural land is being preserved, speculative interest has had a negative effect on farming, especially in the study block adjacent to the City Core Area. Small lot farming could have a role in urban agriculture, however, the continuing concern about fragmentation impedes expansion of this industry sector. Other means to promote farming is required. More definitive agricultural land use and community planning are suggested to protect agricultural land, enhance farming and mitigate urban sprawl. Five recommendations are provided for cities to embrace agriculture not only for food security, but also to invent new urban forms.

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