A Surrey-based drug rehab centre may be out as much as $50,000 after its plans to expand onto a Langley property were stymied by Agricultural Land Reserve rules.
Luke 15 House had put down a deposit to purchase a five-acre site in Langley’s Fernridge area, in the 21200 block of 32nd Avenue, within the ALR.
But their application for non-farm use was denied in June by the Agricultural Land Commission’s South Coast Panel.
The panel considered the use of a main housing structure and four other buildings – a mechanic’s shop, a storage barn with a fitness room and games loft, a chicken barn, and a root cellar – on the property.
The property has hosted uses such as a group home and a missionary training centre, and has an 18,000 square foot home, originally built for handicapped residents, with a number of 12 foot by 12 foot bedrooms.
The board of Luke 15 House had hoped it would make an ideal location to expand their drug treatment facility and add the capacity for more patients, said David O’Sullivan, a board member.
“It’s totally unsuited for a house, unless you’re the Von Trapp family or something, with 20 kids,” said David O’Sullivan, a board member of Luke 15 House.
But ultimately, the ALC’s panel ruled that the use as a rehab home would not be good for agriculture.
The decision says the buildings and a recovery program “does not provide a benefit to agriculture, and therefore fails to meet the mandate of the Commission…”
In addition, the panel found that continuing to use the land for non-farm purposes would reduce the agricultural utility of the land, saying that “the priority use of land within the ALR is for agriculture and found that the proposal should be located on lands outside of the ALR, on parcels that are not designated for agricultural use.”
After trying to determine what to do, Luke 15 House has recently dropped its offer to purchase the property, putting it back at square one after many months of trying to find a new location, said O’Sullivan.
The non-profit has had discussions with the current property owner and might get part of the original $50,000 deposit back, O’Sullivan said.
Ultimately, Luke 15 House had hoped to get up to 50 people in the Langley property, with an emphasis on second-date recovery.
The non-profit chose not to appeal the ALC panel’s decision because they had already asked for multiple extensions on the option to purchase the land, stretching on for 18 months.
A for sale sign on the property showed the land now appears to have been sold.
Tightened rules on agricultural activity in the ALR have caused several recent controversies in Langley.
The popular GLOW Christmas and Harvest events at Darvonda Nurseries were not allowed to run at the Milner site this year, and a Langley family was left in limbo by rule changes that stopped them from installing a mobile home for grandparents on their small South Langley farm. The Fuduric family did get a reprieve after their situation went public.