At this stage, the public and collective importance of agricultural land is embraced. A different mix of land ownership and management models is in place in areas with high urban development pressures. Building on proposals in this section and in Goal 3, Reducing corporate concentration, Substitution, agricultural land in high pressure zones is all protected by a mix of public / private arrangements (including private land managed collectively), restrictive zoning, public ownership, conservation easements, co-operatives and related collective land holding measures. These shifts have significantly moved Canada away from a currently dominant private land ownership model, though not back to the very diverse, private, common and open-access resource models of both pre-Columbian and early colonial periods. It's important to note, however, that North America was not a giant commons pre-European settlement, a narrative perpetuated by Europeans to justify enclosures and private property rights based on their belief that common resource management was ineffective (cf. Greer, 2012). So, the changes proposed here would be in the spirit, if not quite the reality, of more egalitarian periods of sustainable land stewardship.
Equally important, as part of reconciliation (but beyond the scope of this site), much more land is under the management of First Nations as part of both full respect by Canadian governments of existing treaties and land claims, and also new ones to ensure there is no remaining settler use of unceded territory without treaty and First Nations' agreement (Davis, 2018). The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), reluctantly signed by the federal Harper Government in 2010 (Morrison, 2020), may set the stage for more significant progress on this transition. BC passed legislation in 2019, the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act to implement UNDRIP provincially although not much has yet been done to bring it to life. If the Bill concerning UNDRIP implementation is adopted by the House of Commons (Bill C-15), the federal government will also be in a better position to implement changes. However, passing Bill C-15 is only a first step because many changes are required to existing legislation and processes, including to the Indian Act, to bring UNDRIP to life in Canada (Wilson-Rayboult, 2021). The transfer of significant amounts of Crown Land, whether federal or provincial could jumpstart this process (James et al., 2021).
As set out under Substitution, planners have significantly more authority to protect agricultural land, and to determine where urban development occurs and of what type.
There is a profession of food system planning that is central to the agricultural land protection process (see Goal 2, Demand-Supply Coordination, Substitution, New planning mechanisms).