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)

B.C. cuts fees, not red tape for farmland home construction

Gravel roads get relief from fill dumping regulations

After getting an earful from B.C. farmers last year, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham has delivered on some promised changes to restrictions on secondary homes and road maintenance on farms that take effect Sept. 30.

The changes for secondary housing may not satisfy families struggling to house enough people to keep family farms going. Popham announced June 26 that individual applications beyond the principal residence will continue to be reviewed by the Agricultural Land Commission and local governments, but the fee to apply is being reduced from $1,500 to $900.

Popham’s crackdown on “monster homes” and construction dumping on farmland led to push-back from agricultural groups, and secondary housing restrictions extended across B.C. prompted a large demonstration at the B.C. legislature. The changes respond to that, and recent struggles of farms to employ and house temporary foreign workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It takes a lot of people to run a large farm,” Popham said in a statement announcing the latest reforms. “Having parents, in-laws and siblings on site helps many B.C. farms produce the food we need more efficiently.”

In January, Popham released a discussion paper recommending reform of the long-standing policy to restrict secondary housing to one mobile home for an immediate family member. It recommended that garden suites, guest houses, carriage suites and accommodations above existing buildings should be allowed without the full application process.

RELATED: It’s OK to gravel your driveway, B.C. farmers told

RELATED: NDP suggests easing farms secondary housing rules

Delta South MLA Ian Paton, the B.C. Liberal agriculture critic, argues it makes no sense to keep rigid control on family farm dwellings while big Fraser Valley operations install vast concrete-floored greenhouses and bunkhouses for temporary workers on the province’s most productive land.

A similar regulation for placing fill on farmland was also protested as a step too far, extending into rural areas and capturing annual gravelling of roads to keep them passable. Popham promised to fix that in late October, and this week’s announcement creates a new regulation for roads.

A maximum of 50 cubic metres of fill for an entire farm will be changed to 50 cubic metres per 100 metres of existing road. Farmers will also be able to use recycled concrete aggregate or asphalt pavement fill to maintain roads.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Agricultural Land ReserveBC legislature

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

Just Posted

COVID-19: Health Canada recalls 23 hand sanitizers brands

Multiple types of unauthorized industrial-grade ethanol have been found in hand sanitizer products

Young Ucluelet local earns Indigenous Language Revitalization Diploma

Timmy Masso hasn’t entered Grade 12 yet, but he’s already secured a University of Victoria diploma.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

Feds fund safe drug supply pilot program for Cowichan

The opioid overdose crisis continues to be one of the most serious public health crises

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

Thousands of dollars in stolen rice found in B.C. warehouse

Police raid seizes $75,000 in ‘commercial scale’ theft case

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

Most Read