Under pressure about restrictions on additional residences and non-farm uses in the Agricultural Land Reserve, the B.C. government has relaxed its new rules for additional homes on farmland.
The “grandfathering period” for manufactured homes occupied by farmers’ immediate family members has been extended until Feb. 22, 2020, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham announced Thursday. That’s a one-year extension on the original deadline to have local government and Agricultural Land Commission approval.
The change comes after families bought modular or mobile homes for family members found out their installation was not approved under changes to ALR regulations that took effect in February.
“As we’ve worked to make long-overdue changes to help farmers farm, we heard from people living in the ALR, many who said they aren’t farming but purchased ALR land for residential use,” Popham said in a statement issued by the ministry. “We understand that some have been caught in the transition. We’ve listened and have given people a bit more time to get their permits in place.”
Legislation that took effect in February focused on protecting farmland from dumping of construction soil and debris, construction of oversized homes and non-farm uses. The NDP government also moved to eliminate the two-zone structure of the ALR, which the previous B.C. Liberal government put in place to ease restrictions on farmland outside the major production zones of the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Okanagan Valley and southern Vancouver Island.
The changes also eliminated the six regional panels of the land commission, replacing them with regional representatives on a provincial panel that oversees land use decisions.