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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An analysis of landowners’ attitudes towards the British Columbia Agricultural Land Reserve Gillis, Mark Herbert


In British Columbia since 1972 land which is used for or has potential value for agriculture or grazing has been restricted to these and associated uses. The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) system constitutes an unusually strong limitation on property use and consequently on an owner's freedom to maximize economic gain from potential alternative land uses. As a result, the ALR system was highly controversial when it was initially introduced. This thesis examines the attitudes of owners of land in the ALR, using survey data collected five years after initiation of the ALR system. Review of the literature led to identification of many variables which would be expected to affect the attitudes of these landowners toward the ALR. Most of these variables could be related to factors measured in the survey data, or to regional influences which were added to the data base. The basic objective for undertaking the research is implied in the assumption that knowledge of sources or correlates of support and opposition to the existing ALR system is knowledge that may be used in improving the system. More than 80% of all land holders sampled in the ALR support the ALR system, though with some reservations in many cases, but less than 20% are neutral or opposed to the system of land use control. Theory and empirical findings were used to identify the landowners most likely to oppose the ALR, and even in these statistical groupings the majority in each expressed support for the ALR. Most of the variables expected to affect attitudes toward the ALR have in fact negligible or insignificant effect on these attitudes. One of the groups expected to be opposed to the ALR in 1978 were those who had taken some action in opposition to the proposed legislation when it was introduced and debated in 1972 and 1973. When surveyed some five years later, a majority of these expressed at least qualified support of the ALR. The implications of this and other findings for agricultural land policy are discussed, and some suggestions are made for the process of initiating legislation which gives priority to the long term public welfare over short term private interests.

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