Environmental Regulatory Compliance for
Highway Development and Operations

Agricultural Land Reserve

About the Agricultural Land Reserve

The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a provincial zone in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use. Farming is encouraged and non-agricultural uses are controlled.

The ALR covers approximately 4.7 million hectares. It includes private and public lands that may be farmed, forested or vacant land. Some ALR blocks cover thousands of hectares while others are small pockets of only a few hectares.

The Agricultural Land Reserve takes precedence over, but does not replace other legislation and bylaws that may apply to the land. Local and regional governments, as well as other provincial agencies, are expected to plan in accordance with the provincial policy of preserving agricultural land.

The Agricultural Land Commission Act sets the legislative framework for the establishment and administration of the agricultural land preservation program.

About the Commission

The Provincial Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) is an independent Provincial agency responsible for administering the Province's land use zone in favour of agriculture.
The purpose of the Commission is

  • to preserve agricultural land;
  • to encourage farming in collaboration with other communities of interest; and
  • to encourage local governments, First Nations, the government and its agents to enable and accommodate farm use of agricultural land and uses compatible with agriculture in their plans, bylaws and policies.
The Process for Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Projects

Ministry of Transportation projects that affect the ALR must comply with the Agricultural Land Commission Act and Agricultural Land Reserve Use, Subdivision and Procedure Regulation. Sections 2 and 4 of the Regulation are particularly relevant to highway projects and are excerpted below.

For any works in the ALR, contact the ALC office to establish the need for an application and discuss the process and timelines. Depending on the scope of work, some projects will require applications to the ALC and some will not. The permitted types of projects are listed in Part 2 of the Regulation (below).

The application process for other types of project is described on the ALC website.



  • 3    Permitted uses for land in an agricultural land reserve
    • (4) The following land uses are permitted in an agricultural
      land reserve:
      • (a) dedication or upgrading of an existing road with vehicular access and use declared to be a public highway under section 42 of the Transportation Act;
      • (b) road construction or upgrading within a dedicated right of way that has a constructed road bed for vehicular access and use;
      • (c) if the widening or works does not result in an overall right of way width of more than 24 m, widening of an existing constructed road right of way for
        • (i) safety or maintenance purposes, or
        • (ii) drainage or flood control works;
      • (d.1) widening an existing constructed road right of way to ease one curve;


  • 6    Transportation and utility use applications

    Unless permitted under sections 2 and 3, a person must file an application under section 34 (6) of the Act directly with the office of the commission and in a form acceptable to the commission for any of the following uses:
    • (a) widening of an existing road right of way;
    • (b) construction of a road within an existing right of way;
    • (c) dedication of a right of way or construction of any of the following:
      • (i) a new or existing road or railway;
      • (ii) a new or existing recreational trail;
      • (iii) a utility corridor use;
      • (iv) a sewer or water line other than for ancillary utility connections;
      • (v) a forest service road under the Forest Act
    • (d) the new use of an existing right of way for a recreational trail.
  • Notice of application under section 34 (6) of the Act
    • 7    A person who applies to the commission under section 34 (6) of the Act must notify the owners of the land involved in the proposal using a form acceptable to the commission.


ALC homepage: http://www.alc.gov.bc.ca/

Agricultural Land Reserve Use, Subdivision and Procedure Regulation: http://www.alc.gov.bc.ca/legislation/Reg/ALR_Use-Subd-Proc_Reg.htm - sec6

Forms: http://www.alc.gov.bc.ca/alr/forms.htm

Contacts: http://www.alc.gov.bc.ca/contacts/contacts.htm

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