A hand-painted roadside sign points to a farmstand. The District of Sooke’s proposed business bylaw is “confusing and ambiguous” when it comes to farmstands, according to a local farmer. (Lauren Krohn - Metro Creative)

A hand-painted roadside sign points to a farmstand. The District of Sooke’s proposed business bylaw is “confusing and ambiguous” when it comes to farmstands, according to a local farmer. (Lauren Krohn - Metro Creative)

Farmstand operator scrutinizes Sooke’s proposed business licence bylaw

Bylaw makes it difficult for local farmers to compete with businesses outside Sooke

According to a farmer, the District of Sooke’s proposed business bylaw is “confusing and ambiguous” when it comes to farmstands.

Ellen Lewers, who’s operated Mrs. Lewers’s Farmhouse for 36 years, said the new bylaw would make it difficult for local farms to compete against businesses outside Sooke.

Farmstands are exempt from paying a business licence fee as long as they sell products such as vegetables, fruit and meat. The new bylaw says farmers will need a business licence if they sell baked, canned, altered natural food products, artwork or handcrafted items.

ALSO READ: Saanich looks at relaxing farm stand ban

“Farmers are already up against the wall. Where is the support for local agriculture?” asked Lewers, who sells baked goods and home-canning items at her farmstand. “I’m a little concerned because I am the only farmstand in the District of Sooke.”

The revamp of the business licence bylaw is aimed at modernizing the document.

The original bylaw was first adopted in 2007, introducing the concept of business licensing to Sooke and outlining the process for issuing first-time licences. According to a municipal staff report, after 14 years and three amendment bylaws, Sooke’s business landscape has shifted to the point where a new bylaw is necessary.

A draft of the new bylaw includes farmstands, cannabis stores and mobile food vendors for the first time.

Councillors Al Beddows and Tony St-Pierre were concerned with the impact on local farmers.

“I’m at a bit of a loss what we’re trying to achieve here,” Beddows said.

St-Pierre said he worried another bureaucracy level was unnecessarily added since the province allows farmstands on ALR land. Any processed goods and sales creations must go through other levels of government, such as Island Health.

“Ideally, we need a level playing field for our farmers that comes in alignment with the province,” St-Pierre said.

District staff will take another look at the farmstand regulations and report back to council. The third reading of the bylaw, the last step before adoption, is expected at the April 12 council meeting.

READ: Greater Victoria students help bring small-scale urban farming to the community



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BylawsFarmingSooke council

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

Just Posted

Students from Cedar Hill Middle School play and hold a sign to protest proposed music cuts to school band programs in the Greater Victoria School District, during a Monday event. The district is facing a massive deficit and is considering a number of options for cutting costs. (Photo courtesy Laura Alcaraz-Sehn)
Massive student demonstration planned to protest Greater Victoria school band cuts

Band students from 14 SD61 schools will be at major intersections Thursday after school

Leon the squirrel gets a fancy snack of almonds and sunflower seeds from a well-meaning local, who really should be leaving Leon to his own foraging devices. (Submitted)
Squirrels don’t need your nuts, thanks

Consider birding instead of wildlife feeding, SPCA suggests

Jessica Sault of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation is hosting a virtual cedar weaving workshop through Royal Roads University on April 25. (Black Press Media file)
Cedar trees weave deeply into lives of coastal First Nations communities

Jessica Sault of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation hosts virtual cedar weaving workshop through Royal Roads

Reuben Forsland in his East Sooke studio with the guitar he crafted from hemp wood that he hopes will start a conversation about sustainability. (Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror)
East Sooke artisan strikes a chord with custom guitars

Guitars include wood from Hendrix childhood home in Seattle

A man accused of choking a 15-year-old in his tent in Beacon Hill Park Tuesday night has been arrested by Victoria police. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man accused of choking, sexually exploiting 15-year-old in Victoria tent arrested

Police arrested the 38-year-old in Beacon Hill Park Wednesday afternoon

A peacock struts by a pair of lamb siblings at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
VIDEO: Victoria petting zoo optimistic about future after 13 months closed

Public helps non-profit Beacon Hill Children’s Farm with nearly $100,000 influx

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

FILE – RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Very scary’: B.C. travel rules too vague, shouldn’t involve police, civil liberties group says

BCCLA said that speaking with communities could have avoided top-down approach

Ocean Legacy Foundation members conduct a shoreline pollution cleanup in Vancouver. (OLP)
It’s time to end ‘suffocating’ plastic pollution along B.C. shorelines, advocates urge

This Earth Day, Ocean Legacy Foundation is launching a free educational platform to educate the public about plastic pollution

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
B.C. teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
An Island girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

The Coastal Fire Centre is looking ahead to the wildfire season on Vancouver Island. (Phil McLachlan – Western News)
Coastal Fire Centre looking ahead at wildfire season on Vancouver Island

‘We’re asking people in the spring to be very careful’

There are lots of resources for seniors looking for information about COVID-19. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
COVID questions? Here are some phone-based resources available for seniors

Here is a list of numbers to keep on hand for Vancouver Islanders who aren’t fond of computers

Most Read