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

The plane crash at the top of the mountain

50 years ago, a small plane was lost within sight of the Cranbrook airport. What went wrong?

Fire Chief delivers update to Kimberley City Council

Somewhat of an odd year with pandemic, Prasad says

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Most Read