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.

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

Just Posted

University of Victoria tells stories of Holocaust survivors with graphic novels

International storytelling initiative launched first meetings this winter

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters protest police action in Victoria

Protesters say at least 14 were arrested by police overnight

High-rise hotel proposed for downtown Victoria location

A 15-storey hotel could be coming to the Fort and Blanshard streets area

Advocates call hospital parking fees a ‘shakedown’ after learning most Island tickets are waived

Victoria General and Royal Jubilee hospitals among the most ticketed on the Island

Restrictions on unrelated occupants dominates Saanich council meeting

Saanich council sends issue of unrelated occupancy limits to public hearing

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

Horgan unveils B.C. cabinet shuffle changes

Premier John Horgan has made three major changes to his cabinet

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

B.C.’s first ride-hailing app to launch in Tofino, Whistler in February

The Whistle! app will be available in Tofino on Feb.1 and in Whistler Feb. 6.

Councillor resigns in Revelstoke after colleagues approved 67% raise

Council approved a 134 per cent raise for the mayor of Revelstoke

Rolled-over dairy truck in Abbotsford lost 40,000 litres of milk

Truck removed Sunday, Jan. 19, with specialized equipment to upright vehicle

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Most Read