Posted on August 26, 2013
Death of Gary Runka, architect of the ALR, breaks link to land changes that transformed BC
Many can legitimately claim to have helped create BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve — not least among them the irrepressible Richmond farmer and councillor Harold Steves — but Gary Runka was both the architect and builder of a fundamental land reform that changed the course of BC’s history.
Runka’s sudden death last month at his home in Stuie, near Bella Coola, breaks a link to the hectic days between 1973 and 1975 when Dave Barrett’s NDP government created the Agricultural Land Commission and established long-term legal protection for BC’s farmland.
Runka directed the creation of the reserve and then managed the commission for several years before leaving to take up a successful consulting business. Since 2001, he lived in the Bella Coola Valley near the western boundary of Tweedsmuir Park, with his wife Joan Sawicki, a long-time Burnaby MLA, and cabinet minister in the Mike Harcourt government.