The B.C. government has extended its deadline for removing secondary homes from agricultural land for a second time, with promises that more on-farm housing will be allowed as long as local governments don’t object.
Landowners in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) now have until the end of 2021 to obtain permits to place a mobile or modular building for an immediate family member. Since an outcry over the NDP government’s first crackdown on secondary homes and business operations, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham is now promising to make room for “non-farmers” and streamline permits for accommodation for farm and agri-tourism workers.
“In the coming months, government expects to detail rules that will, in most circumstances, enable ALR landowners to have both a principal residence (that could include a secondary suite) and a small additional residence, whether or not there is farming activity on the property, and without having to apply and receive permission from the Agricultural Land Commission,” the ministry said in a statement April 9.”The ministry is proposing new rules to provide more flexibility to help farming families thrive and to benefit non-farmers living in the ALR.”
While the provincially-appointed ALC has moderated its housing position, Popham has elevated local governments as the gatekeepers for any construction on farmland. The government changed legislation to state that only local governments, not farmers are “persons” to the ALC.
“Local government rules continue to apply and may be more restrictive on residential use of the ALR, and may even prohibit any additional residences on the ALR,” the ministry said. “People who are farming already have a path with the ALC to build one or more residences of any size if it can be demonstrated that they are reasonably necessary for farming purposes. The ALC approves approximately 80 per cent of applications for additional residences for farm use. Local government approval is also required.”