05/14/2015 07:29 EDT | Updated 05/14/2016 05:59 EDT

Former B.C. mayor appointed chairman of province's Agricultural Land Commission

SAANICH, B.C. - A former mayor of a Vancouver Island municipality has taken over the reins at the province's Agricultural Land Commission.

Frank Leonard says he looks forward to his new role as the commission's chairman and that he is committed to promoting food security in British Columbia.

Leonard was the longtime mayor of Saanich, B.C., where nearly 20 per cent of the land base is located within the ALR.

The commission is an independent administrative tribunal with the goal to preserve agricultural land and encourage farming throughout the province. So far almost five-million hectares have been set aside for farming.

New Democrat agriculture critic Lana Popham says the dismissal of former ALR chairman Richard Bullock means the province has lost an advocate in the protection of farmland.

She says the government is committed to weakening the land reserve.

(The Canadian Press, CHNL)