Protecting the ALR and Supporting Our Local Farmers

MAIN OBJECTIVES:

  • Protect the ALR and support our local farmers
  • Support decisions made by Chilliwack Agricultural Advisory Committee
  • Promote local awareness of agricultural practices
  • Encourage and support agricultural tours and education
  • Support new food processing facilities

All Lower Mainlanders know Chilliwack as a “farming community”. Over two thirds of our land base is within the Agricultural Land Reserve. Agriculture accounts for 29% of all economic activity within our city, and over 4500 jobs are directly related to agriculture. Average farm gate revenues have been increasing annually, as have building permits on agricultural land. Last year, the value of new buildings on agricultural land in Chilliwack exceeded $21 million. So agriculture is a big player in our local economy.

As we grow more urban, there are more pressures on our land base.  The city has set up an Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC), to help advise council on land use decisions that affect land within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), and on properties next to ALR land. The AAC is made up of members in our community, and they debate the merits of each application, vote on it, and then send the application to council, with or without AAC support. This is a great way to get advice and feedback from the agricultural community on any land use decisions that affect land within the ALR.

I believe that education for the non-farming community is very important. We need to educate new residents who just moved here from more urban centers, that farmers spread manure on their fields in the spring and in the fall, before turning over the soil and seeding it with another crop. During these times, there will be big, slow-moving farm vehicles on our roads.  Normal work hours that apply to businesses and trades do not apply to farmers, and often farmers are harvesting all night long.  Managing expectations and educating the non-farming community of these issues will help reduce friction between our urban population and our agricultural community.

The Chilliwack Agricultural Commission is part of CEPCO, and it’s mandate is to promote agriculture in our city. Among other things, it hosts the annual Agricultural Tour, a great way for all our citizens to connect with our agricultural community and see the some of the great things happening in our city.

Because of our climate and soil conditions, the land we have here is Chilliwack can support a variety of crops.  Some of the “new” exciting crops are hops and hazelnuts.  Although these crops have been here for close to a century, they almost disappeared and are now making a strong come-back.  New processing facilities for these crops are located in Chilliwack, which is needed for long-term growth. City hall should continue to encourage and support any food processing facility in Chilliwack, as local processing facilities decreases transportation costs, provides jobs, and signals to the farming community a confidence in these crops.

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