Leonard didn’t upset the ALR apple cart Up Front

By Bryden Winsby W

hen Frank Leonard was appointed chair of the Agricultural Land

Commission a little over three years ago, there was great concern that the former Saanich mayor would be nothing more than a toady of the B.C. Liberal government as it proceeded to dismantle or at least do serious damage to the Agricultural Land Reserve. His predecessor, as most of you will recall, was Richard Bullock, well-known Kelowna orchardist who had plenty of knowledge and much to say about where the ALR should be headed. He was unceremoniously bounced with about half a year left in his term. “By replacing B.C.’s agricultural watchdog with someone with no background in agriculture, the B.C. Liberals are making it clear that their attack on the ALR has only just begun,” New Democrat ag critic Lana Popham said at the time.

Popham is now in charge of the agriculture ministry and has named Jennifer Dyson to succeed Leonard. As Associate Editor Judie Steeves explains in her profile of Dyson in this issue, the new chair is a nine-year member of the commission and recently headed up a committee appointed to review the ALR. She’s also a farmer, which Leonard is


However, his tenure was unsullied by any radical changes to the land reserve. The previous government's decision to split the ALR into two zones — a contentious issue for farmers and politicians alike — was made before he took on the job. And despite worries to the contrary, Leonard was not completely devoid of knowledge about the issues involved. He had met many farmers when he was chairing the Municipal Finance Authority of B.C. and served as co-chair of the Farm Assessment Review Panel. In 28 years on Saanich council, he had several opportunities to deal with ALR matters, given that 20 per cent of the municipality’s land is in the ALR. Those experiences might not have made him an expert, but neither was he a total neophyte.

In fact, some of his views going in changed before he headed out. For instance, as a mayor he opposed the growing of marijuana on farmland,

4 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2018

ostensibly because the operations are often contained in concrete bunker-like buildings. Too industrial looking, said he and other critics. But after his time as ALC chair, he mused that many farming operations,

such as dairy, poultry and greenhouses, have an industrial look to them. Leonard also came out insisting that failed golf courses should not be allowed out of the ALR for commercial or residential development. Unless nobody cares what he has to say now, Leonard won’t fade too far into

obscurity. He’ll continue his part-time roles as a course instructor of small business management at the University of Victoria, as chair of Parkbridge Lifestyle Communities, as a board director for Coast Capital Credit Union and as a consultant for training municipal councillors.

As one of those councillor types for the better part of a decade now, I’d be happy to hear what he has to say to newbies, and oldies, for that matter.

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