B.C. Liberal agriculture critic Ian Paton addresses rally outside the B.C. legislature, Oct. 28, 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Secondary home rules are killing family farms, B.C. protesters say

B.C. Liberals demand changes to NDP agriculture restrictions

B.C. farmers came out in force at the legislature Monday to call for changes to Agricultural Land Reserve rules that they say are pushing families off their farms.

The biggest issue is a law that quietly came into effect this spring, restricting secondary dwellings on farmland. Protesters also called for changes to new restrictions on non-farm activities such as running a restaurant or attractions such as harvest festivals to introduce urban people to farming.

The changes came after NDP Agriculture Minister Lana Popham got rid of the two-zone system for agriculture land, which eased restrictions for non-farm uses in areas outside B.C.’s prime agricultural zones of the Okanagan, Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island.

RELATED: Land commission forces Rusted Rake eatery to shut down

RELATED: B.C. farmers aren’t ‘persons’ under new NDP legislation

RELATED: Langley grandparents left in limbo by new restrictions

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said she hears the concerns of farmers, but some of the issues raised at Monday’s rally are based on “misinformation,” about on-farm businesses and family residence rules.

“We probably could have communicated better,” Popham said. “Because there’s so much misinformation, since September we’ve been going around and trying to do myth-busting, setting the record straight, having conversations with British Columbians at the same time as taking their input as we create these regulations.”

Popham said the latest round of consultations on farmland regulations is scheduled to continue until mid-November, but anyone who has a concern can contact the ministry at any time.

Comox farmer Meghan McPherson said the previous farmland rules allowed two dwellings with fixed foundations in zone two, the zone eliminated by Popham. Now existing second homes are considered “legal non-conforming” and new ones are not allowed, which affects the ability to get mortgages, she said.

“Lenders consider ALR parcels high-risk to begin with, and now they’re filled with a bunch of structures that are not replaceable should something happen to them,” McPherson said.

She cited Popham’s restrictions on accepting fill material on farmland, describing a farmer who has been “reprimanded” by the land commission for re-gravelling the driveway leading to his 100-year-old farmhouse.

B.C. Liberal agriculture critic Ian Paton, a third-generation dairy farmer and MLA for Delta South, introduced a private member’s bill Monday called the “Home-Based Craft Food Act,” designed to allow small home-based businesses to make and sell low-risk food products like jam, candy, honey or bread directly to consumers from their farmland.

Paton also presented a petition with 26,000 names, calling for the government to repeal Bill 52, the NDP legislation that restricts secondary dwellings.

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness introduce another bill aimed at giving land owners more ability to keep trespassers off their farms.

“Farmers around North America and in my riding who raise animals have experienced a spate of threatening messages, some of them violent, from activists dedicated to shutting down the practice of animal husbandry, which supplies protein for millions, comprises much of our agricultural industry and is an important way of life in B.C.,” Throness told the legislature.

“In a number of cases, including in the Fraser Valley, unlawful trespasses and occupations of farms have also taken place, leading to a loss of income and of security for farmers and their families.”

Throness noted the NDP government has accepted an opposition amendment to B.C.’s Trespass Act, which he called a good first step in protecting farmers from trespassers and possible disease transmission that can contaminate or kill livestock.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

After delays, Ighani presents no evidence

Afshin Maleki Ighani trail adjourned to Jan. 6

Wharton Street in Summerland open for traffic once again

Road closure had been in place for past five months for upgrade work

Penticton Fire Department urging caution with decorations

The Penticton Fire Department wants people to be careful with indoor and outdoor decorations

Christmas comes to Penticton through Children’s Showcase

The Christmas production of the Children’s Showcase takes place Dec. 15 at the Cleland Theatre.

PET OF THE WEEK: Tweety just wants some love

Cat now lives at Critteraid in Summerland and seeks a new home

Get your head out of clouds, North Okanagan

Fall fog sticks around all day in northern portion of valley

Highway 97 in Lake Country reopens after police incident near Airport Inn

Traffic was backed up on the highway for several hours

Canucks erupt with 5 power-play goals in win over Nashville

Vancouver ends three-game slide with 6-3 triumph over Predators

65-million-year-old triceratops makes its debut in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. is excavating the fossilized remains of a 65-million-year-old dinosaur

B.C. widow suing health authority after ‘untreatable’ superbug killed her husband

New Public Agency Health report puts Canadian death toll at 5,400 in 2018

Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

Security guard at Kamloops music festival gets three years for sexually assaulting concertgoer

Shawn Christopher Gray walked the woman home after she became seperated from her friends, court heard

Most Read