The B.C. government is trying to make it easier for farmers by relaxing the rules for secondary residences within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Instead of allowing only manufactured-type homes for family members, the ministry is proposing that farmers be allowed to have a variety of secondary homes serving a range of purposes, provided the local city council agrees.
Such secondary residences could include garden suites or guest houses, suites atop an existing building, manufactured homes, or allowing a permanent residence to be built to replace a manufactured home. Agricultural Land Commission approval wouldn’t be needed.
Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall welcomed the proposals, with conditions.
“It depends on the size of the property for me. If the circumstances dictate that there’s a need for a secondary home for workers… it makes perfect sense.”
But the new rules shouldn’t be used to subdivide small, rural properties.
“It will have to be very fact specific and property specific for me.”
Maple Ridge Coun. Kiersten Duncan was worried that secondary homes could eat into farming space and encourage more monster homes.
However, last year, the ALC imposed size limits on primary homes in the ALR.
Included with that, was the proposal to phase out the option for manufactured homes, which led to public outcry, forcing a reversal, with the ministry now considering a range of housing as second residences.
Maple Ridge dairy farmer Matthew Laity, welcomed the idea. “It’s a move in the right direction,” he said.
He supports preserving farmland but said more choice in housing will allow farmers more flexibility in managing their farms.
“So, I think it’s a positive move,” Laity said.
According to a policy paper, secondary homes could be used to house aging parents, or allow for joint ownership of a farm, or used as rental income.
“Under the proposal, a small secondary residence would be available for farm-workers, family members or anyone else, provided there is local government approval,” Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said in a press release about the plan.
Secondary homes can also make it easier for farmers to enter or leave the industry or provide accommodation for farm workers. ALC approval wouldn’t be needed.
People have until April 17 to give their input on the ideas by e-mailing: ALR_ALCRevitalization@gov.bc.ca.
Meanwhile, people still have until the end of the year to install manufactured homes on to their farm properties.
“We are continuing to do the work necessary to help farmers farm and protect farmland for future generations,” Popham said.