By 2040, the Lower Mainland’s population will grow by 1.2 million to 3.4 million residents. The pressing question: where will we all live?

One solution has been to gently densify existing neighbourhoods with secondary suites and laneway or coach homes. Another approach has been to add density ranging from townhomes to three-story apartments or condominium towers, close to transit. 

Another solution, often resulting in polarizing discussions, has been to remove land from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). But there is almost no support for this province-wide, according to a new study.

Safeguard ALR - study finds

Funded by the Real Estate Foundation of BC and the Vancouver Foundation, the study finds that 95% of respondents to a province-wide poll think the ALR should be preserved for growing food and green space.

Food security
 •  80% of British Columbians are concerned about our dependence on other countries for our food security
 •  73% think the ALR is a cornerstone of food security and the BC economy

Freshwater, farming
 •  When asked what priority uses for land in British Columbia were, respondents identified "natural freshwater systems" (83%),
    closely followed by 'farming and growing food' (81%).

 •  6% agree or strongly agree the ALR is important, not only for protecting farms, but for protecting valleys and green space
    needed for wildlife habitat and recreational enjoyment.

"Local, sustainable food systems are a priority issue for the Foundation because of the link between food security and community well-being," said Jack Wong, CEO of the Real Estate Foundation of BC.

"With challenges such as development pressure on agricultural land and changing weather patterns, it is of vital importance to have forward-thinking policies that protect land for growing food, now and for future generations."

“The study demonstrates British Columbians believe strongly in safeguarding our farms and green spaces to ensure long-term health, well-being and resilience in our communities,” said Kevin McCort, CEO of Vancouver Foundation.

“The Agricultural Land Reserve is a vital public asset contributing to our ability to reliably produce fresh food, preserve local farmland and freshwater supplies, and to support local BC farmers and ranchers.”

The Real Estate Foundation and the Vancouver Foundation commissioned the study to inform discussion and decisions on the future of the ALR, a provincial land use zone that protects farmland and land with potential to be farmed. Both foundations have a province-wide mandate and support projects that promote strong, resilient communities and natural environments.

The ALR currently makes up 5% of BC's land base.