“Completion of the Regional District of North Okanagan agriculture plan (RDNO) would not have been possible without the generous funding support from the Investment Agriculture Foundation. Staff at IAF were available to assist when required throughout the planning process and were extremely helpful with the reporting and grant administration requirements.” Laura Frank, Regional Planning Projects Manager, RDNO

Local governments in B.C. are continuing to take advantage of programs to help them plan for agriculture. With support from IAF, the Regional District of the North Okanagan (RDNO) recently completed a regional agriculture plan, providing guidance to its 14 board members on agriculture land issues and identifying priorities to ensure the longterm sustainability and resilience of the sector.

The Regions’ planners found the planning process incredibly valuable as they became more aware of some of the area’s top agriculture priorities, such as protecting farmland and farmers and encouraging climate change resilience. 

The number of farm operators in the region is not only growing, but existing farms want to expand. To better protect the Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR), the RDNO plans to work with the real estate industry to better communicate the Right to Farm Act to those on properties adjacent to the ALR. The RDNO has also recognized that amending ALR boundaries can lead to speculation and urban development pressure, so they plan to protect current ALR boundaries as stable in all planning documents.

The issue of climate change arose as a significant concern during the planning process. The RDNO has recognized that all agriculture sectors are vulnerable to it. As a result, climate change was given considerable attention in the plan, identifying particular regional challenges such as high irrigation needs, stony and hard clay soils, steep slopes, shallow soils, poor drainage, invasive species and predator threats. Because farmers are expecting to deal with emergency weather events such as drought more often, planners gained an increased recognition of the important link between agriculture and emergency planning. 

“We have just initiated the implementation process identifying action items with the highest priority that require minimal budget,” states Laura Frank, Regional Planning Projects Manager, RDNO. “This plan, with its list of recommendations, associated costs and partnership opportunities, is extremely useful for guiding implementation. Through the guidance of the Regional Agricultural Advisory Committee we plan to implement more of the recommendations to support agriculture in the future.”

FUNDING: $45,000 through the former Federal-Provincial Safety Nets Framework. (B0016.39)