Strategic Agricultural Plan

Farming in North Cowichan


The Municipality of North Cowichan was incorporated in 1873, is over 20,000 hectares in size and has a population of approximately 30,000 people. The area has a long tradition of farming dating back to the 1850s. Currently, the Municipality has 1,279 properties in the Agricultural Land Reserve. This is a reduction from the 1,325 parcels in the ALR that existed at the time the Municipality’s Strategic Agricultural Plan [PDF - 4.9 MB](SAP) was adopted by Council in 2001. Currently (2012), there are approximately 685 farms in the Cowichan Valley of those 374 are active farms located in North Cowichan. Agriculture forms an important and vital component of our economy and supporting agriculture has been and continues to be a strategic priority.


Strategic Agricultural Plan and Official Community Plan


Development pressure for residential purposes on agricultural lands, and increasing environmental concerns necessitated the creation of an agricultural plan for North Cowichan, which was completed in 2001. The following year the 2002 Official Community Plan (OCP), which included formal recognition of the challenges faced by farmers, was adopted by Council. In part to protect rural and agricultural lands, the 2011 OCP has designated three urban containment boundaries [PDF - 1.3 MB]as part of a growth management strategy. In addition the 2011 OCP strengthens the intent of protecting agricultural lands and has set goals to deal with the impacts of climate change.


Agricultural Advisory Committee


In 2001, the Strategic Agricultural Plan (SAP) was initially intended to be supported by a variety of agricultural non-government organizations but farmers and others felt that it was not receiving sufficient focus. As a result Council created the Agricultural Advisory Committee in 2005, in part to ensure the implementation of the SAP. The committee has provided input on development applications in the Agricultural Land Reserve and has raised concerns about agricultural issues; however, sufficient resources to address the priorities of SAP were not available. With support from Council and Administration the committee held a workshop in June of 2012 to discuss the role and priorities of the committee. As a result they established their key priorities, which have received approval in principal from Council. The committee followed up the workshop with the development of a work and implementation plan to address their priorities.

The AAC’s Work and Implementation Plan [PDF - 469 KB] was adopted by Council in January 2013 as a strategic document to guide the committee’s work.


Council supported the committee’s request to create a reserve fund for agriculture – the funds are intended to be used for the benefit of agriculture in North Cowichan.


The work of the committee is ongoing and includes developing a watershed management plan, and working on exploring opportunities to support the economy of farming.

 

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