RDEK pushes back at ALC over farm residence restrictions
Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) directors May 3 unanimously approved a motion that will ask the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to petition the provincial government to again allow for secondary dwellings on farm properties.
Noting a Feb. 22 Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) Act (ALCA) amendment that created the Agricultural Land Reserve Use Regulation, which limits total floor space and additional residences on agricultural properties, the regional board agreed to send the following motion to the UBCM, after a fair amount of discussion.
“And whereas the changes limiting the total floor area of a principal residence and restricting the construction of additional residences are detrimental to farming operations and make it difficult for farm operators to operate a sustainable business by impeding succession planning, housing for family, and farm workers thereby putting the food security of region and province at risk;
“Now therefore be it resolved that the UBCM petition the province of British Columbia to reinstate the previous provisions of the legislation which facilitated the construction of additional dwellings for farm help, manufactured homes for immediate family members accommodation above an existing farm building, or second single-family dwelling.”
The ALC amendment was initially undertaken in an effort to curb the construction of mega-mansions on Lower Mainland farmland.
The regional board arrived at its motion after considering a couple of letters from area residents and from review of ALC information bulletin five – ‘Residences in the ALR’ (Agricultural Land Reserve).
Among the key residential changes to the ALCA and the ALR Use Regulation: Generally land in the ALR may have no more than one residence per parcel, with certain grandfathering. “In addition, the Commission may approve an application for an additional residence if necessary for farm use, but the Commission is prohibited from approving an additional residence otherwise.”
Additionally, it states, “The total floor area of a principal residence must be 500 m or less in order to comply with the ALCA, though a local government may impose a lower size cap under their bylaws.
“The ALCA and regulations had previously contained provisions facilitating the construction of additional dwellings for farm help, manufactured homes for immediate family members, accommodation above an existing farm building, or (in parts of the province) a second single family dwelling” but are no longer in the regulations.
Village of Radium Hot Springs Mayor and RDEK board member Clara Reinhardt said the East Kootenay does not have to worry about the mega-mansion issue, with most of it occurring in the Surrey area of the Lower Mainland
“That size of a residence just isn’t very problematic for us,” she said.
Electoral Area G Director Gerry Wilkie agreed, noting the changes “are maybe Lower Mainland-centric.”
RDEK planning director Andrew McLeod explained the ALCA amendments came about, in part, because the placement of 10,000-square-foot homes on farm property “limits affordability to young farmers buying properties” – pricing them out of the market.