NEWS
03/27/2014 10:48 EDT | Updated 05/27/2014 05:59 EDT

ALR changes expected to open land to B.C.'s oil and gas companies

The B.C. government is expected to make it easier for farmland to be used by industries such as the oil and gas sector when it unveils major changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve this morning.

Full details will be released around 10 a.m. PT, but the changes are not expected to sit well with farmland advocates, who have voiced suspicions about the B.C. Liberals' intentions.

The changes to the agricultural land commission and land reserve come as the province releases the results of its core review into how the current system operates.

The changes the government is expected to announce on Thursday include dividing provincial farmland into zones with areas like the Fraser Valley to be governed by one set of rules, and other areas such as the Peace River region to be governed by another less stringent set of regulations.

That would make it easier for oil and gas companies to use that northern land for drilling.

Leaked documents released last year also suggested the province was considering transferring control of the ALR from the independent Agricultural Land Commission directly into government hands or even B.C.'s Oil and Gas Commission.

But the minister in charge of the government's core review, Bill Bennett, has repeatedly denied that allegation.

The ALR was created by the NDP in the early 70s to protect the province's farmland from industrial and urban development.

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