The popular Glow Harvest and Glow Christmas events at Langley’s Darvonda Nurseries faces possible closure after the Agricultural Land Commission ruled recently that the event isn’t a permitted farm use.
“They’re basically saying, ‘You now have to apply for non-farm use,’” said Tamara Jansen of Darvonda.
Last fall, the ALC contacted Darvonda and asked the greenhouse for some documents and information on the show to make a determination.
As of Thursday, Feb. 28, Darvonda had heard they’re being denied, but hasn’t seen the actual ALC ruling yet. Specific reasons for the denial are not yet known.
Applying for a non-farm use permit is possible, but it could still imperil this year’s autumn and winter events – it could take so long to apply that Darvonda might not get a non-farm use exemption until too late.
That would be a financial hit for the greenhouse firm, Jansen said.
Last year, about 120,000 people came through Glow at Christmas.
The events, running since 2017 and expanding to include the Harvest event last year, includes light displays, food, and family events inside portions of the greenhouses.
Jansen, who is nominated by the Conservatives to run in Cloverdale-Langley City in the next federal election, said there is no official appeal process, but she feels the greenhouse’s events fall well within the rules for farm use.
During the Harvest Glow, they grew their own corn in the greenhouse for a corn maze and had a pumpkin patch and a petting zoo.
Their Christmas event helps market their poinsettias, Jansen said.
“We as farmers have to maximize the use of our assets,” Jansen said, noting that they were making use of greenhouse space that’s busy in the spring and summer, but underutilized in the fall and winter. “This is a modern way of marketing farm produce.”
The nursery will decide on a course of action once the full ALC decision has arrived.
A formal letter on the decision is expected to arrive soon, likely next week, said Avtar Sundher, director of operations for the Agricultural Land Commission.
He said if the greenhouse’s management wishes to apply for a non-farm use permit, it will first go before the local municipality – in this case, Langley Township.
If the council approves of the use, the next stop is the Agricultural Land Commission itself.
Sundher said the ALC’s goal is to return decisions within 60 days of receiving a decision from local governments.
Although he couldn’t speak to specific issues with Glow, since there is no official response yet, he said some regulations that limit non-farm economic activity can include having 50 per cent or more non-farm products, having a retail sales area of more than 300 square feet, and that there is a 10-day limit for gatherings.
Similar issues have arisen with some other Agricultural Land Reserve properties over the years in Langley, most recently with local sites hosting film and TV crews for extended shoots.
A petition was launched on change.org Friday morning to allow Glow to continue. By 9 a.m. it already had more than 1,000 signatures.
“Glow Langley is a great, family oriented event,” wrote Pat Chessell on change.org. “As a musician who worked there this year, it was a real pleasure to see so many families take joy in visiting Glow.”
“Glow is an opportunity buy local products and enjoy and an amazing experience for families,” Katherine Carlson wrote on the petition. “Why it wouldn’t be allowed baffles me.”