UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Highway network planning and agricultural land preservation in conflict : the B.C. case Burke, Holger


This thesis examines the existing conflict in British Columbia between highway network planning as undertaken by the Ministry of Transportation and Highways Planning Branch (Ministry) and agricultural land preservation which is under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission (Commission). At the heart of the conflict is the fact that the Ministry does not view the Agricultural Land Reserve (A.L.R.) as a restriction to potential development and changes in land use nor does it look at the Reserve as a major barrier to future highways. Consequently, the Ministry often superimposes a highway network plan (i.e. functional grid configuration) over the A.L.R. in spite of the Commission's concerns. Reasons for this conflict and, in particular, for the approach taken by the Ministry include: differing philosophies towards the use of a highway network plan (i.e. as a means to reinforce and effect desired land uses/land management programs); the traditional uncertainty associated with agricultural land preservation in B.C.; the uncertainty involved in highway network planning; and, a lack of co-ordination between the Commission and Ministry. The thesis then goes on to outline the implications that this conflict has to local area planning and to the development of land. The point is made that due to various legal requirements, financial incentives or other non-coercive measures, a municipality or regional district may become involved in the conflict and put in the difficult position of having to decide which provincial agency it is going to listen to when preparing an official community plan, official settlement plan or official regional plan. Similarly, an applicant proposing to subdivide land within the A.L.R. may be placed in the position where he can not get the necessary approval of both the Ministry and the Commission due to their disagreement over a highway network plan. Finally, there is a concern of the Commission, as evidenced by numerous examples, that a highway network plan which adversely affects the A.L.R. can serve as an impetus to development. Thus, it is concluded that an effort must be made to resolve this conflict and its resultant implications. In light of this conclusion, the final part of the thesis examines some long term and short term solutions for resolving the conflict. In particular, three long term solutions are looked at: a change of philosophy in which highway network planning would be used as a tool to control and direct development; the application of an environmental impact assessment and review process (as has been done in Ontario and Saskatchewan); and, the use of an intermediary agency (such as the Environment and Land Use Committee) as a means for resolving the conflict. However, due to various difficulties it is summized that none of these solutions individually or collectively are an immediate answer to the conflict between highway network planning and agricultural land preservation in B.C. Instead, it is recommended that the use of a short range highway network plan (to be included in a local area plan) and a long range highway network plan (as a separate document containing the position of each agency or group involved in the review of this plan) is the best solution which could be implemented now. For the purposes of this thesis, information was obtained and personal interviews conducted with key personnel from the Ministry, Commission and Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Information was also obtained from secondary published sources and the experience of other Canadian provinces solicited by mail. This was supplemented by the author's four years of working experience with the Commission (1977-81) wherein he was actively involved in the review of highway network plans as they affected the A.L.R.

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