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DEADLINE extended for second homes “I’m very happy for those


been caught in the transition. We’ve listened and have given people a bit more time to get their permits in place.” The move follows


widespread criticism of new regulations introduced in February following passage of Bill 52, which removed a provision allowing for a second home on farm properties for family members. The change was part of steps to rein in residential development on farmland and curb speculation. However, the move took


many municipalities and landowners by surprise. The pressure peaked


following a June 17 meeting District A Farmers Institute hosted in Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island. Concerns voiced there received widespread media coverage, followed by earnest pledges from the government that grandfathering provisions were coming. Those followed July 4, and marked a small victory for critics. District A Farmers Institute


president Janet Thony gave the announcement a mixed review, however.


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folks who can carry on with their plans. Hopefully it is a reasonable time frame,” she said. “I am not happy that a ‘grandfathering period’ indicates they will not reverse the decision to not allow a second residence for ‘immediate family.’” Thony says the prohibition


on allowing immediate family to live on a property constituted “a direct attack on the principle of the ‘family farm.’” However, Popham has steadfastly maintained that secondary residences are still allowed if they support farm operations. All landowners need to do is apply to the Agricultural Land Commission. Additional discussions in 2020 will support regulations that accommodate families that farm.


A wholesale modernization


of regulation is needed, said Popham, not the piecemeal approach that’s been taken in the past. “When the old government made changes to the ALR, they took a piecemeal approach that hurt our


CORRECTION: The treaty map accompanying “Treaties create uncertainty for range users” in the July edition was mislabelled. The red outline shows what the Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw are claiming as their traditional territory; the pink identifies the traditional territory of the whole Shuswap nation. We apologize for the error.


COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • AUGUST 2019 nfrom page 1


producers,” said Popham. “We’ve been working on regulations. As part of that, we’re looking at how we can provide farmers with more flexibility in their businesses, while continuing to preserve the valuable farmland they rely on.” In the meantime, housing suppliers welcome additional time for landowners to seek approvals. Two clients of Triple R


Modular Homes in Merville put their modular home orders on hold as a result of the rule change, says owner Larry Huston. Since the grandfathering period was announced, they’ve told him they’ll proceed. He expects more to follow. “It’s already turned positive


for us,” he said. “[There’s] nothing new as of yet, but we’re looking at trying to figure out how we can do something on our website to promote that you’ve got a year.”


While most people


typically want homes delivered before the autumn rains begin, the February deadline gives them time to seek approvals for homes delivered in 2020. The number of property


owners likely to take advantage of the reprieve is difficult to estimate. There have been 28 applications to the Agricultural Land Commission for residential use of farmland between February 22 (when the new regulations were introduced) and June 17. Of these, three applications – all


in the South Coast region – were for homes larger than 500 square metres, the maximum allowed under Bill 52. The rest were for secondary residences, with 12 applications on the South Coast and 10 in the Okanagan. Since landowners didn’t


have to seek the land commission’s approval for


secondary homes for immediate family prior to February, there’s no indication yet of whether landowners are rushing to locate a modular home on their property for family before they’re not allowed. “This is new legislation so


we don’t really have any comparison,” says commission CEO Kim Grout.


A bit of history This year’s fight over


residential development within the Agricultural Land Reserve hearkens back to the outcry when a previous NDP government slapped a freeze on the subdivision of farmland in December 1972. That move came as


landowners and brokers rushed to subdivide parcels before the government of NDP Premier Dave Barrett made good on its promise “to set aside areas for agricultural production so as to prevent such land being subdivided for industrial and residential use.”


The only exceptions


were parcels less than two acres in size and any land in non-farm use on June 21, 1972. When the reserve was created the following spring, it totalled less than 11.7 million acres, a fraction of the more than 74 million acres of farmland in BC. A torrent of protest dogged its creation, with the BC Federation of Agriculture saying access to farmland was a key issue for growers but their


property rights must be unfettered. Many growers wanted compensation for devaluation of properties they banked on selling after years of hard work. (By contrast, the federation’s successor, the BC Agriculture Council, has generally endorsed the recent changes.) Yet erosion of the


reserve has been steady. More than 7,150 acres has been lost since the current NDP government took power in 2017, and it now totals 11.4 million acres. Moreover, approximately 44,450 parcels are less than two acres – meaning they would never have been part of the original freeze in 1972. And less than half the reserve is actively farmed, a situation that has persisted for much of its existence.


The number of farmers has also declined, with the latest census of agriculture in 2016 counting 17,528 farms employing 44,556 people. This compares to 130,000 people working the land in 1972. —Peter Mitham


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