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

Mission Christmas Bureau accepting applications and donations

More than 77 children have already been registered and another 500 are expected this holiday season

Bomb threat at Mission school not credible says superintendent

West Heights Community Elementary School struck by vandals over the long weekend

SLIDESHOW: Remembrance Day ceremony in Abbotsford

Over 4,000 people attended the ceremony in Thunderbird Square

Abbotsford a “leading municipality” in Canada for radon reduction efforts, says national health coalition

Abbotsford one of 15 cities to particpate in national health campaign to raise awareness

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

Birthday boy: Pettersson nets 2 as Canucks beat Predators

Vancouver ends four-game winless skid with 5-3 victory over Nashville

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

Petition for free hospital parking presented to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

What started as a B.C. campaign became a national issue, organizer said

Bargaining to resume in Metro Vancouver transit strike as bus driver overtime ban looms

Both sides might be headed back to the table to prevent new overtime ban

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

B.C.’s high gasoline prices still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

VIDEO: Don Cherry says he was fired, not sorry for ‘Coach’s Corner’ poppy rant

Cherry denies he was singling out visible minorities with his comments

Most Read