B.C. Liberal agriculture critic Ian Paton addresses farmers’ rally outside the B.C. legislature over housing restrictions, Oct. 28, 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Farmers call on B.C. NDP to allow more housing, business

Secondary homes, restaurants, rentals can keep farms viable

The B.C. NDP government’s crackdown on additional housing and business uses in the Agricultural Land Reserve has brought further calls from farmers that what they need is flexibility in keeping farms in business.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham got an earful of feedback on agricultural housing restrictions this spring, in a consultation that followed farmer protests last fall. Popham’s focus has been getting non-farm business and residential use off farmland, after she eliminated the B.C. Liberal government’s two-zone land reserve that allowed more business use.

The ministry’s efforts to crack down on construction waste and “mega-mansions” resulted in regulatory retreats after going too far, such as requiring costly permits for gravelling roads to keep them passable. And the housing crackdown has produced another do-over.

The ministry’s first response to a summary “what we heard” report released Sept. 4 is an extension of the “grandfathering period” of manufactured homes on farmland. It now extends until July 31, 2021, to allow time to develop new regulations.

“Landowners in the ALR will have until then to obtain the required permits and authorizations to place a manufactured residence for immediate family on their property, without having to apply to the Agricultural Land Commission,” the ministry said in a statement.

Currently only mobile or modular housing is allowed for immediate family members, but farmers are saying they need more options. The ministry consulted local governments and “people who identify as farmers,” as the report describes them.

“Many suggest that the tough realities of farming make other income streams necessary to support farm production and make a farm more resilient to tough economic conditions,” the ministry summary says. “The ability to have rental properties is seen as a way to assist in this.”

RELATED: B.C. farmers aren’t ‘persons’ in new farmland law

RELATED: It’s still OK to gravel your driveway, farmers told

The ministry asked local governments about applications for “garden suite, guest house or carriage suite,” as well as “permitting a new permanent residence to be built in addition to the manufactured home that is the principal residence.” Some communities support all four and others would allow none.

The potential of “tiny homes” and “yurts” for farm worker housing was also discussed, with local governments suggesting any structures should comply with B.C.’s building code.

Most responding local governments said they would not prohibit additional homes on farmland. Asked which type of additional small residences, suggestions included allowing only single-family homes and making sure secondary residences aren’t used as short-term rentals. That could be done by requiring that secondary homes are close to the primary residence.

The ministry received 257 responses to its “policy intentions paper” from individual farmers and associations, some calling for flexible housing options for farms. Suggestions included regulations that allow two dwellings without an application to the Agricultural Land Commission, and “stick build” options rather than the current rule that only manufactured homes can be used as second residences.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureFarming

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

One person treated for smoke inhalation after Langley fire

Township firefighters were called to Deer Creek Estates Wednesday night

Aldergrove Credit Union and G&F Financial Group announce plans to merge

Combined organization would operate under the name Gulf and Fraser Fishermen’s Credit Union

Tree protection advisory committee members appointed in Langley Township

Volunteers will provide guidance on protection, preservation, and planting of trees in township

Langley4Langley food bank fundraiser extends deadline to Sept. 30

Participants can log activity online and take part in 10 km virtual fun run in Derby Reach

Legion to hold private Remembrance Day ceremony at Cloverdale Cenotaph

General public will not be allowed in Veterans Square for Nov. 11 services this year

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Mounties cleared by watchdog in fatal shooting of man with schizophrenia in Maple Ridge

Kyaw Din was killed by the RCMP during a mental health incident in August 2019

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Most Read