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

Terrace Fire Department gets new rescue truck

$500,000 donation from LNG Canada went toward new truck, with remainder of funds coming from City

The Skeena River Métis Community Association looking to boost cultural awareness

The association is asking families to self-identify as Métis to access federal education funding

Survivors of abuse at Indian day schools could use help accessing compensation, advocate says

Class-action against federal government now settled but application form to claim funds is rigorous

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Most Read