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Multilevel governing in British Columbia: A case study of residential development and the Agricultural Land Reserve in the City of Richmond

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Author: Obidi, Sara
This thesis presents a locally specific case study of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in the City of Richmond, British Columbia, providing an examination of multi-level governance and government ‘on the ground’ in Canada. The last several years represents a significant period of policy and political change, at both the City of Richmond and the Province of British Columbia, intended to protect ALR land from residential and accessory residential uses as well as the outright exclusion of land from the Reserve. Yet, a lack a cooperation and policy coordination between, across and within federal, provincial, regional, and municipal scales has allowed such exclusions and the increased residential and accessory residential development of land within the ALR to occur. Such policy discord and inconsistencies are largely attributable to several challenges inherent in the multi-jurisdictional character of the ALR with sometimes competing and conflicting interests between government scales and conflicting private and public interests. Most significant has been a lack of political will to act and the passing off of jurisdictional responsibility between government levels. Moving forward, further province-wide regulation limiting non-agricultural uses of ALR lands while allowing for continued municipal flexibility in regulating below these provincial benchmarks is needed. Such increased provincial regulation would allow for greater consistency between municipalities as well as urban and agricultural areas within cities, reducing the appeal of ALR lands for residential and accessory residential development.
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