B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham deserves some props this week, not a lot, but some.
She essentially admitted that there was a problem with Bill 52.
“In rural B.C. there’s often cases where farmers need to add gravel onto their driveways annually, because of weather conditions and climate up in the rural areas, and the driveways are long. So they would need to bring on fill onto their properties, onto their farms, in quite large amounts,” Popham told reporters at the legislature this week.
“In our legislation, we actually tried to stop dumping of garbage and fill on farmland. That doesn’t work in rural B.C. because it’s an annual process for them.”
Popham said that means paperwork annually and a fee annually and that they’ll be changing it.
“We’re going to tweak it, because that was great input.”
It’s not always easy to own up to something like that. Certainly, there are plenty of politicians presently who never own up to anything.
However, you’d think that anyone who made it to Agriculture Minister, would know enough about living in a rural area, nevermind farming or ranching, to know that it’s a good idea to gravel your driveway somewhat regularly. There are plenty of other reasons why a farm or a ranch might want or need fill for everything from something as simple as compost or soil (a lot of Cariboo soil isn’t exactly the best-growing medium) to sawdust for calving pens to rock for dam maintenance.
Popham says “that’s the great thing about doing the regulations while you’re consulting because you can hear stuff, and then change it.”
Ironically, that’s exactly what the complaint has been; there was a lack of consultation on Bill 52.
The BC Farmland Owners Association specifically states “the farming community does not feel that their views and the reality of farming in the 21st century were accurately reflected in this report and in Bill 52.”
Having overlooked something as simple as gravelling a driveway and with Popham admitting that stopping fill on farmland doesn’t work in rural areas, it’s pretty hard to side with the government that there was enough consultation.
Now perhaps there’s an argument to be made that there was such a rush on agricultural land for mega-mansions in the Lower Mainland that immediate action was needed and that because of that there simply wasn’t more time for consultation. However, even if that was the case, there certainly wasn’t that same type of rush on agricultural land in the rest of B.C. They could have restricted the changes of Bill 52 to what was Zone 1 and left the rest of B.C., which was categorized as zone 2, until there was time for more consultation.
Max Winkleman is the editor of the 100 Mile Free Press.