Agriculture Minister Lana Popham attends annual Beef Day barbecue at the B.C. legislature, May 2019. (B.C. government photo)

It’s still OK to put gravel on your driveway, rural B.C. farmers told

Lana Popham says women’s addiction facility still has to move

One of the many problems presented to B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham by angry farmers this week was that the NDP government’s new regulations against dumping fill on farmland have included gravelling driveways to keep them passable in bad weather.

Under fire about elderly people or grown children not allowed to stay on family farms, the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) shutting down non-farm activities including a restaurant and a women’s addiction recovery centre, and other aspects of her overhaul of farm legislation, Popham has made a concession on the gravel issue.

“In rural B.C. there’s often cases where farmers need to add gravel onto their driveways annually, because of weather conditions and climate up in the rural areas, and the driveways are long. So they would need to bring on fill onto their properties, onto their farms, in quite large amounts,” Popham told reporters at the legislature this week.

“In our legislation we actually tried to stop dumping of garbage and fill on farmland. That doesn’t work in rural B.C. because it’s an annual process for them. So we are now requiring a letter of intent every time someone brings new soil or fill onto their property.”

The latest round of ministry consultations heard about this problem and Popham said she is fixing it, by getting rid of the letter of intent requirement and the fee that goes with it.

“We heard from rural B.C. that this would mean paperwork annually for them, and a fee annually for them. And so while we’re doing our regulations, we’re going to actually change that,” Popham said. “We’re going to tweak it, because that was great input, and that’s the great thing about doing the regulations while you’re consulting, because you can hear stuff, and then change it.”

RELATED: Popham contradicts ALC on women’s addiction centre move

RELATED: Secondary home rules are killing family farms, protesters say

More than 100 rural people descended on the B.C. legislature this week to push back on Popham’s changes, particularly the elimination of “zone two” farmland outside the prime farm areas of the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan and Popham’s home turf of southern Vancouver Island.

A major objection is housing restrictions. Popham’s revamped ALC restricts additional housing to farm worker use, and that has created cases where multi-generational farmers can’t provide accommodation for aging parents or young farmers taking over the operation.

Christine Watts of Loon Lake spoke to the rally, describing her life on a small ranch where her husband has lived for 62 years.

“We looked after, on the farm, both of his parents until just a few days before they passed away, each of them,” Watts said. “And we were hoping to do the same now as we age. And that doesn’t look like it’s going to be able to be the case, unless my son lives in our basement.”

Popham said some of the protesters are farmers, but others are living on agricultural land but not farming. She said there is a procedure with the new ALC, centralized in Burnaby as part of the overhaul, to review additional home applications.

“You can put an application into the Agricultural Land Commission, and you can have a non-adhering permit, so you can apply to have an additional home,” Popham said. “But of course the ALC uses the agricultural lens when they’re approving that.”

Popham also cited the example of house size restrictions aimed at preventing “mega-mansions” from being build on protected farmland. Big homes are popular with berry farming families in the Lower Mainland, so regulations were adapted to fit that need, she said.

On the Fraser Valley Gleaners recovery centre for women in an Abbotsford farmhouse, Popham was unmoved.

“It’s an Agricultural Land Commission decision,” Popham said. “They are an independent tribunal, and so I can’t interfere with any decision that they do. But they’re also very reasonable, and so two years is quite a bit of time to find a new accommodation.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

Nelson and COVID-19: everything you need to know

Check this page for every local story related to the outbreak

MP Morrison touts non-partisan effort to provide relief amid COVID-19 pandemic

The federal government has announced a slew of economic initiatives for those impacted by the pandemic

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Interior Health to host virtual town hall Friday, March 27

The Q&A forum begins at 6 p.m. PDT, link in story

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

Most Read