Agricultural Land Use in the ALR

This page features two research on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR): "Do non-farm use and subdivision activities support farming in the ALR?" and "Protection is not enough: Policy precedents to increase the agricultural use of British Columbia's farmland". Both studies contribute to our attempt to provide evidence-based information that would enable our planners to make better-informed decisions and set future policies related to agricultural lands.

Do non-farm use and subdivision activities support farming in the ALR?


Over the years, there have been a number of non-farm use and subdivision activities proposed on the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) by landowners to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). There had never been a study addressing the current use of the lands after non-farm use and subdivision activities were approved. This study developed a methodology to systematically track non-farm use and subdivision applications. The aims were to understand the nature of these applications and assess if the lands were currently used for farming and if their ownerships have changed. 

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Protection is Not Enough: Policy Precedents to Increase the Agricultural Use of British Columbia's Farmland


The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) was established in 1973 to stop the rapid loss of the province's limited agricultural land to urbanization. While the establishment of the ALR reduced the rate of farmland loss from an estimated 4,000-6,000 ha/year (2% annually) to 600 ha/year1, approximately 50% of the ALR is currently not used for farming.2  In the summer of 2017, the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems hosted an intensive policy research lab to review policies from around the world that address key challenges underpinning the utilization of BC's farmland, including agricultural land prices, land use competition, current fiscal policies and farmland speculation. Research was compiled into a white paper and complementary policy brief. The goal of the white paper is to present instructive policy precedents to stimulate dialogue and promote policy development that addresses the utilization of BC's agricultural land. 


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1. Smith, B. E. (2012). A work in progress - The British Columbia farmland preservation program. Retrieved from 

2. BC Ministry of Agriculture. (various). Agricultural land use inventory reports.  Retrieved from: 

RealEstate Foundation of BC

This work is generously supported by the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.