A Langley family whose plans to bring three generations together on one rural property were derailed by changed regulations are getting things back on track this week.
Cathy and Brian Fichter are now getting ready again to move a modular home onto the five-acre farm property they bought with their daughter and son in law last year.
“The permit is being issued today to begin site prep,” Cathy told the Langley Advance Times. “This will take about a month, but at least there is an end in sight.”
The retired couple in their 60s decided to move closer to their daughter Alannah Fuduric and her husband Ryan, particularly after Brian was diagnosed with Parkinsons.
The family decided the best option was to pool their money to buy a small farm in South Langley. The Fuduric’s six children would each have their own room, and the Fichters could install a modular home just across the garden.
The family closed on the property on Feb. 26 this year. They didn’t realize that their time had just run out to add a modular home to the lot under Bill 52’s changes to Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) rules.
“We were four days short of the Feb. 22 [deadline],” said Cathy.
If they had known the rule change was coming, they easily could have expedited the process, but the Fichters say they were caught off guard.
Before Bill 52, the Township could issue permits for second dwellings based on a number of set criteria – if a farm had so many horses, so many dairy cattle, so many pigs, it could automatically qualify for a second dwelling, based on the idea that the farm would need more people.
The change meant all secondary dwellings had to be approved by the ALC.
After stories like that of the Fichters began coming to light, B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham suggested the rules would be eased.
On Thursday, July 4, she announced a one-year “grandfathering period” for manufactured homes to be occupied by farmers’ immediate family members.
“We understand that some have been caught in the transition,” Popham said in a statement. “We’ve listened and have given people a bit more time to get their permits in place.”
The Fichters are just glad they can now realize their plan to live as one family.
“Relieved doesn’t begin to describe how I fell,” said Cathy. “I actually slept last night!”