UBC Theses and Dissertations
The British Columbia Land Commission Act-1973 Smith, Barry Edward
It is estimated that British Columbia has less than five per cent of its land upon which soil bound agriculture can take place. Over the past twenty-five years, significant amounts of prime farmland have been lost to non-agricultural uses. To assist in stopping this trend, the Land Commission Act, R.S.B.C., 1973, Chapter 46, became law on April 18th, 1973. While the Act has a number of functions, this study examines only its objective of preserving agricultural land for farm use. The thesis is divided into two sections. Part one provides a review of a number of important reasons for implementing the Land Commission Act. The second part provides a descriptive analysis of the Act's implementation, including an analysis of the controversy and issues that arose from its introduction and the subsequent amendments that led to the Land Commission Act. It also includes an examination of the process of establishing the Agricultural Land Reserves as well as a review of possible future areas of activity of the Land Commission. The study is directed at the Land Commission's first year of operation. It does not include a comparative examination of legislation directed towards the preservation of farmland in other parts of Canada and the world. Neither does it analyse the economic impact the Land Commission Act will have on urban or agricultural land values or on the economic viability of the agricultural industry. The thesis more closely resembles a legal-political examination of a piece of legislation intended to help keep the Province's short and long range land use options open. When beginning to research this thesis, there was very little formally written material specifically concerning the Act. It was necessary, therefore, to gain information through an examination of the Act itself, Hansard, newspaper articles, and by interviewing and corresponding with several persons knowledgeable of the subject. Through the research it was found that during the intensive debate that followed the announcement of Bill 42, many statements in opposition to the legislation were erroneous. The primary purpose in researching and writing this thesis is to hopefully provide a fuller understanding of the Land Commission Act. It was also found that the much publicized amendments of the Act were generally for the purpose of clarification with but two exceptions. The success of the Land Commission Act in its attempt to preserve agricultural land can not be accurately assessed at this time. There remain many reasons to suspect that the Act will fail. The threat of continual urbanization of farmland remains its strongest adversary. There are, however, a number of aspects in the Commission's favour -- the most important being the strength of conviction of the Legislators and administrators and the awareness of the general public of the necessity of preserving farmland.