February 14, 2020
New Residential Options Proposed for Agricultural Land
The Province is proposing more residential flexibility for people living in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) as outlined in a new policy intentions paper released Jan. 27, 2020, by the Ministry of Agriculture.
In order to support farmers and non-farmers living in the ALR, the government is considering regulatory changes to enable landowners to have both a principal residence and a small secondary residence on their property, provided they have approval from their local government. ALR property owners would not be required to apply to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) for approval.
“We are continuing to do the work necessary to help farmers farm and protect farmland for future generations,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “The ALR is B.C.’s best food-producing land and is just 5% of our province’s land base – it’s so important for food security. The proposed changes, if implemented, would provide additional residential flexibility in the ALR. Publicly sharing this proposed policy direction now gives those interested an opportunity to review and comment, leading to better outcomes. We recognize that rules by the previous government do not reflect the needs of British Columbians and as a result, we are proposing to allow more flexibility for small secondary residences. Under the proposal, a small secondary residence would be available for farm workers, family members or anyone else, provided there is local government approval.”
The new ALR residential options and specific conditions with each option such as size, siting, and quantity being considered by government include:
• garden suites, guest houses or carriage suites;
• accommodation above an existing building;
• manufactured homes; and
• permitting a principal residence to be constructed in addition to a manufactured home that was formerly a principal residence.
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 new residential options do not include a reconsideration of the maximum size of a principal residence. The ALC will remain the decision maker for additional residences for farm use in the ALR. Any new permitted secondary residences should be registered with the ALC for long-term land-use planning purposes.
The policy intentions paper resulted from collaborative work with the Union of B.C. Municipalities, the ALC and the BC Agriculture Council, and responds to feedback the ministry heard during recent public consultations. The policy direction is also guided by the results of the Minister of Agriculture’s Advisory Committee on ALR Revitalization. People are asked to provide their feedback by April 17, 2020, on the residential options via email: ALR_ALCRevitalization@gov.bc.ca
While the ministry finalizes its policy direction, the grandfathering period for manufactured homes in the ALR for immediate family members has been extended to Dec. 31, 2020. This means people wishing to place manufactured homes on their ALR property will be required to get the necessary permits and authorizations from their local governments, but do not have to apply to the ALC for approval.
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