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Salmon Arm, BC

One thing that Canada has in abundance is bureaucracy.

There's something called the ALR - Agricultural Land Reserve. Contrary to popular opinion in Canada, this is an initiative of the provincial government of British Columbia rather than the federal government, (I looked it up on the net here) although there may well be similar instruments in other provinces. Some 5% of BC is ALR.

Although I've had it explained to me a couple of times, I'm still unsure of what the purpose of the ALR actually is. Back in the 1970s, Prime farming land was going out of cultivation due to competition from other land uses. In Australia, we would call that good because agriculture is the major user of our scarcest resource - water. Clearly, Canada is not short of food - it's a major exporter - so what the problem is is unclear to me.

The ALR seems to have a number of effects. One farmer in the Shuswap area wanted to raise free range chicken. It seems that he upset neighbours who felt farming his ALR land would have a detrimental effect on their plans for non-agricultural use!

There's also apparently some folks who are building huge houses on rural blocks - so-called "country estates" and some councils are moving to stop them. (Are you listening Homer?)