Diane Katz’s recent Fraser Institute study calling for the agricultural land reserve (ALR) to be dismantled is easy to dismiss out of hand.
Protecting the ALR has become close to a religion for lots of people: anyone challenging it is deemed an infidel and banned from the temple of orthodoxy. No policy that ties up 4.7 million hectares of land, including 21% of all the land in the Lower Mainland, should be above scrutiny, especially when it’s had such little effect on fixing agricultural woes. It hasn’t stopped the decline in owner-operated farms, it hasn’t increased the percentage of food being grown locally; it hasn’t resulted in more young farmers going into farming; it hasn’t stopped the decline in farmland dedicated to field crops and vegetables.
And even if it did stimulate more production of local food, Katz argues that locally produced food is neither healthier, safer, better tasting, environmentally friendlier nor more appealing to consumers than imported food. (I’ll leave that one for another discussion.)