Terry McLeod, the Fort St. John real estate developer claims that the entire city wants rodeo and the land is not high quality farmland

 

Terry McLeod built a rodeo on his Fort St. John agricultural land in defiance of the Agricultural Real Estate Land Commission.

Terry McLeod built a rodeo on his Fort St. John agricultural land in defiance of the Agricultural Real Estate Land Commission.

The northern B.C. developer Terry McLeod claimed that he does not expect to face any legal charges for the rodeo ground that he developed despite the Agriculture Commission rejecting the establishment. McLeod, the Fort St. John landowner questioned whether the commission is going to put a road block around to prevent people from coming to his property. It is to be mentioned that Mr. McLeod organized a rodeo during summer and was the host for the RCMP’s musical ride. 

Only one official is currently assigned to enforce the decisions made by independent Crown agency in British Columbia, means taking any concrete step against McLeod is highly unlikely with the serious lack of man power that the agency is currently facing. A 2010 government audit expressed dissatisfaction towards ALC for the lack of its man power which is struggling to operate on the ground level outside South Coast and Lower Mainland. The agency has been struggling after one of the two enforcement officers left last summer. However the agency is still trying to find a replacement to extend its capacity. 

According to Brian Underhill, the co-executive director of ALC, his agency’s budget went up by one million dollars last year reaching $2.9 million in total to enhance the commission’s capability to carry out its duties. According to the audit, the numbers are identical to what the agency had for its budget a decade ago. However ALC needs to continue seeking out for more creative and cost effective ways to balance the enforcement which has become a matter of major concern in the recent years. 

McLeod claimed that his property has swampy hay fields and therefore is not considered to be a potential place for agricultural productions according to ALC which according to him clearly backs his claim that the property is not a high quality farmland and therefore, the agency’s decision to reject his project makes little sense. It is to be mentioned that Mr. McLeod developed the rodeo grounds that he claimed was desired by the entire city after ALC’s summer inspection of the property which later rejected a plan that has entangled Pat Pimm, the Agricultural Minister, the local B.C. Liberal MLA, involving controversies for backing and lobbying for the proposal. 

According to Mr. McLeod, he built holding pens for cows, sheep goats, bulls and horses and regardless of how ALC takes it the project is still agricultural since it deals mostly with cattle. 

McLeod, who is planning to organize an international rodeo on his land next June asked whether the authority is going to fine him for developing pens on his property. He said that he is a retired business person and not worried about the recent legal concerns raised by ALC regarding the use of his property as he believes he didn’t break any law. 

Despite Mr. McLeod’s confident statements, ALC co-executive director Mr. Underhill assured that once the investigation is completed and proper assessments are there regarding McLeod’s property, necessary steps will be taken accordingly. 

He also added that the commission is well aware of the fact that just like any authority or tribunal, one needs to recognize that he also has limited resources and should act responsibly when it comes to utilizing those resources. He said, the agency acts according to the legislation but will use every available options including persuasion and direction to issue stop-work orders wherever it is applicable under legal grounds. 

Although the authority may penalize an individual or a certain entity, the actual purpose of an enforcement or compliance activity is to ensure the proper use if a property under legal grounds which is considered appropriate, according to the ALC con-executive director. 
It is to be mentioned that ALC holds the power to seek for a B.C. Supreme Court injunction under which, an individual who is found guilty for a contravention can be fined up to $1 million or can be imprisoned for up to 6 months. With Mr. McLeod raising questions about the legal grounds for ALC’s actions and Underhill’s determination to do whatever is necessary to enforce regulations, the matter might end up in the court. However, the incident may also raise concerns regarding ALC’s capacity to carry out its duties as it seems the agency is clearly struggling at the ground level.

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