Court orders denial of ALR exclusion reconsidered

B.C. Supreme Court has ruled that a group of Aldergrove property owners should have applications for exclusion from the ALR reconsidered

The B.C. Supreme Court has ruled that a group of Aldergrove property owners should have their applications for exclusion from the Agricultural Land Reserve reconsidered by the Agricultural Land Commission.

The applicants had applied to the ALC for exclusion of eight properties adjacent to the Gloucester Industrial Estates on the basis that the lands were non-arable and poorly drained, making them unsuitable for farming. Their application had been supported by Langley Township, but had been turned down the commission on August 26, 2010.

In his reasons for judgment issued March 28, Justice Wong noted that the ALC had already agreed to reconsideration of their original decision prior to the court hearing in February, and that “there is no element of the commission’s conduct in this court proceeding that is challenged.”

However, Justice Wong said the decision was inconsistent with the agrologist’s findings, and that, “There was also a complaint that two of the commission members’ remarks at the application hearing indicated unfortunate bias towards private applicants applying for exclusion from Agricultural Land Reserve.”

Justice Wong set aside the commission’s previous order of refusal, and ruled that it be reconsidered pursuant to legislation.

Among the justice’s directions is that Commissioners Sylvia Pranger and John Tomlinson will not be permitted to decide on the reconsideration, and it should either be heard by other members of the commission or a panel of the commission.

In the court’s directions, the applicants will be permitted to present oral and written submissions and will be provided 30 days notice of the reconsideration meeting.

The commission may also give notice to any person it considers affected by the reconsideration, and to accept new material from these parties before a decision is made. Copies of any new material must also be supplied to the applicants prior to the meeting.