An interesting though little-known fact is that the City of Kamloops has more Agricultural Land Reserve land than any other municipality in the province. Kamloops' land area is 28,415 hectares, of which 13,023 hectares or about 46 per cent is in the ALR.
About 48 per cent of ALR has limited potential for cultivation due to physical constraints such as slope, soils or flooding.
These lands, however, are important for the livestock industry, primarily as grazing for livestock and some of it has potential for crop production, such as hay.
About 4,800 hectares or 37 per cent of ALR land is available for cultivation once road right-of-ways, protected areas, parks, residential footprints and the like are taken into account. Of the 4,800 hectares, about 1,500 hectares are actively farmed and about 3,200 hectares have potential for farming.
The Kamloops Agriculture Advisory Committee is well on its way to developing a local Agriculture Area Plan (AAP). During the development of the Sustainable Kamloops Plan, an agriculture plan was identified as a high-priority item.
The Sustainable Kamloops Plan suggests ways in which Kamloops can continue to function and grow in a more sustainable manner. Background research was conducted on all aspects of sustainability including land use, growth management and economic viability.
It was determined that Kamloops needed to gain a better understanding of where viable agriculture land exists, how it should be used or enhanced, and what local opportunities could exist for increased food production and processing. The primary purpose of developing an AAP is to establish updated and more defined policies to protect and promote agriculture and encourage sustainable agricultural practices.
The policies and goals in the AAP will ultimately strengthen the economic viability of agriculture land, promote agriculture as a sustainable industry and identify appropriate uses on the varying classifications of agriculture land with the intention of protecting arable land.
The AAP is being developed through extensive consultation with agriculture stakeholders including local farmers and ranchers (small-large scale, certified organic and conventional), the development community, agri-industry (B.C. Livestock Producers, B.C. Stockmen's Association), government and non-government agencies (municipal government, Ministry of Agriculture, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Community Futures) and the public.
Some of the main areas of interest are: economic viability, supporting industry diversification, protection of resources (land and water) necessary for agriculture, a secure food supply and increased public knowledge and awareness.
Building a strong partnership between the Agriculture Land Commission, local government, ranchers and farmers is a doable and necessary initiative.
The agriculture industry has been a staple for the community of Kamloops for more than 150 years and a driving force to the City's economy.
© Kamloops Daily News