New rules will allow farmland reserve (ALR) owners to increase housing flexibility, helping farmers and non-farmers support their families and businesses in their communities.
According to a BC government press release, options for an additional small second home have been added to the regulations, allowing LRA farmers and landowners to have both a primary residence and a home. small second home on their property with a streamlined approval process. Only local government or First Nations government authorizations will be required, and there will be no application to the Agricultural Lands Commission (ALC).
In an interview with the CulminateQathet Regional District (qRD) farmer Mark Gisborne said this is good news for BC’s farming community.
“This is a step in the right direction towards collaborative and multigenerational agriculture,” said Gisborne. “The intention of ALR is to prevent urban sprawl on agricultural land. “
The press release said that additional residences can be used to house an extended family, agritourism accommodation, farm labor housing or rental property for additional income. There is no longer a requirement that additional residences be used by the landowner or their immediate family members.
“In 2018, the provincial government imposed greater restrictions on residential uses on LRAs by removing exemptions for second homes,” Gisborne said. “The decision created unnecessary additional challenges for small family farms and increased the administrative burden on local governments and the taxpayer. “
Gisborne said that each year, representatives of local governments from across the province come together to express a collective voice in the provincial government through the Union of Municipalities of British Columbia (UBCM).
“At UBCM 2019, residential flexibility on ALR was a hot topic,” Gisborne said. “UBCM members passed a resolution calling on the provincial government to reverse its restrictive housing decision. Many voices from across the province echoed this request. The voices included farm associations, Facebook groups, people sending letters.
Gisborne said this recent announcement highlights the power of advocacy and the importance of local government collaboration through organizations such as UBCM and the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities.
“By working through collaborative organizations, elected local government officials are able to advocate for change, with or without the support of their local councils and councils,” said Gisborne.
Examples of flexible housing options permitted under the regulation include, but are not limited to: garden suites, guest houses or transport cabins; housing above an existing building; prefabricated houses; and allow the construction of a principal residence in addition to a prefabricated house which was previously a principal residence.
Farm families will continue to be able to apply to ALC for several larger homes if they are needed for farming purposes. The new rules come into effect on December 31, 2021.