Vancouver has seen experiments with rooftop vertical farming on city buildings in the past, but Agriculture Minister Lana Popham is betting that being able to add them to agricultural zones will help bolster B.C.’s food security. On Saturday, Popham said the province will change B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve regulations that will allow proponents of vertical-farm buildings to pursue plans without having to seek the permission of the Agricultural Land Commission first.
“Proponents will only need to work with their local government or First Nations government to ensure local requirements are met and that it is a fit for their community,” Popham said in an announcement Saturday from Victoria. The change would put vertical-farm buildings in the same category as greenhouses or livestock operations as allowable farm uses on ALR land.
Popham said supply-chain problems created by COVID-19 and last fall’s catastrophic flooding that cut off key highway supply lines put a spotlight on B.C.’s food security. “Vertical farming will create even more opportunities to increase the food supply in the province allowing farmers new options to produce more food year-round in more challenging climates,” Popham said.
And while the change “clarifies what we welcome in the ALR,” Popham said vertical-farm operations will still be required to provide assurances that they have the ability to remediate the soils on agricultural land back to original conditions in case operations don’t work out, similar to greenhouse or livestock operators.
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