The B.C. government has proposed easing its regulations around residences on land in the Agricultural Land Reserve, a sore point with farmers since the NDP began tightening restrictions in the past two years.
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham released a discussion paper Monday that recommends a series of changes to allow more accommodation on farms without owners having to apply to the Agricultural Land Commission for permission. Within specific size and siting conditions, those would include garden suites, guest houses, carriage suites, accommodation above existing buildings such as a shop or garage, and easing rules for manufactured homes.
“The province would not require the small secondary residence be a manufactured home only for an immediate family member, as was the case in regulations under the previous government,” the agriculture ministry said in a statement Monday. “The new residential options do not include reconsideration of the maximum size of a principal residence. Any new permitted secondary residences should be registered with the ALC for long-term land use planning purposes.”
The secondary housing issue has been one of a series of controversies for Popham, starting with her interventions on federally regulated salmon farms on the B.C. and the role of B.C.’s food safety lab. She signalled early on that she intended to roll back B.C. Liberal changes to the Agricultural Land Commission, scrapping regional panels and eliminating the “zone two” regulations that were put in to ease secondary land use rules outside the prime farmland of the Fraser Valley, southern Vancouver Island and the Okanagan.
B.C. Liberal agriculture critic Ian Paton has blasted the NDP government for restrictions that prevent extended families from living on a farm, while corporations pour huge foundations for greenhouses and set up lodging facilities for temporary farm workers on the prime land of the Fraser River delta.