Ministry of Agriculture

Agricultural Area Plans

Land use planning in British Columbia dates back to the 1930's and today most communities have official community plans. The Local Government Act also makes provision for municipalities and regional districts to develop official plans for portions of their jurisdictions - often referred to as neighbourhood or local area plans.

Starting in the early 1990's, a growing number of local governments have developed local area plans that focus on their farming areas. These plans are often referred to as an agricultural area plan (AAP) or strategy. The Agricultural Land Commission and Ministry of Agriculture (AGRI) actively support local government initiatives to develop agricultural area plans.


An agricultural area plan focuses on a community's farm area to discover practical solutions to issues and identify opportunities to strengthen farming and ultimately to contribute to agriculture and the community's long-term sustainability.

Common Elements:

While every agricultural planning area is unique, with a specific set of challenges and opportunities, there are a number of common elements to the process of developing an AAP:

the planning process is lead by the municipality or regional district;

Agricultural Area Planning

- helping to secure agriculture's long-term stability

- moving beyond farmland preservation

care is taken in defining the agricultural planning area;
an agricultural planning steering committee normally guides the process;
the steering committee should be inclusive of members of the farm community- an agricultural advisory committee may be called upon to assist or act as the AAP steering committee;
Ministry and Agricultural Land Commission representatives are often asked to participate and provide resource assistance;
the information base is strengthened by such means as land use inventories, statistical material and the development of a background report;
issues and opportunities are identified to guide the emerging plan policies;
the plan's policies are intentionally "action oriented" providing practical solutions to the local issues that are identified.
a clear plan for implementation is included; and
organizations best positioned to implement solutions are identified.


For local governments that may be interesting in developing an agricultural area plan, Ministry and Agricultural Land Commission staff are pleased to provide advice based on its experience working on similar projects with other municipalities and regional districts. The Ministry has developed some introductory material related to agricultural area plans to assist with local planning efforts.

Completing an agricultural land use inventory of the planning area is often an important first step to enhance the information base. The Ministry has developed guide material related to land use inventories and GIS applications to assist local governments. The Ministry may also be able to assist the process with the development of agricultural statistical products where information is available.

Link to INVESTMENT AGRICULTURE FOUNDATION Local Government Agricultural Planning program  - information and contacts


The Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC provides funding assistance. For more information on funding assistance on plan development, contact Investment Agriculture Foundation.