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B.C. Liberals looking to appease private interests with land reforms, Dix says

People pick from dozens of pumpkins at Michell Bros. Farm in Central Saanich, B.C., on Oct 13, 2013.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Globe and Mail

The B.C. New Democrats are decrying a Globe and Mail report that claims the province's Liberal government is considering sweeping changes to the Agricultural Land Commission.

The Globe and Mail has published a story that says Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm is asking cabinet to move the commission into his ministry and transfer much of its decision-making power to the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission.

NDP Leader Adrian Dix says it's clear the Liberals are attempting to undermine the independence of the land commission, which was created by the New Democrats in the 1970s, to appease private interests.

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Pimm's office is referring questions to Bill Bennett, the cabinet minister in charge of the province's so-called "core review," who insists the government won't reduce protections for agricultural land, though he declined to confirm any details.

Dix says the province would look very different if the Agricultural Land Reserve hadn't protected the province's farmland from development.

The commission oversees the 4.7 million hectares of land throughout the province set aside for agricultural production.

The land commission has had a "delegation agreement" with the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission since 2004, giving the oil and gas commission authority to exempt land from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

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