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

Lumby Lions name Good Citizen of the Year

Award goes to Lumby Food Bank operator and North Okanagan Valley Gleaners volunteer Robert Wilkinson

North Okanagan sisters-in-law sleep out successful

Kiley Routley and Heidi Routley raise nearly $2,400 and awareness for youth homelessness

Vernon youth questioned by RCMP after incident on school roof

Police receive reports of debris being thrown from Seaton Secondary roof Saturday

Vernon restaurant winging it with colour

Wings hosts colouring contests where child patrons can win gift certificates

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Most Read