The province says updates to the Agricultural Land Commission Act will make it easier for multi-generational farmers on ALR land to build on-site housing.
Established in 1973, the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) came into being to protect farming land in B.C. from being urbanized, and involves public and private land.
The ALR is controversial due to what the Agricultural Land Commission allows and doesn’t allow on ALR land.
On Friday, though, the province said it will start allowing more housing to be built on ALR land.
“B.C.’s farming families work hard to put food on our tables, and these changes will help reduce the expense and anxiety of maintaining an extended-family lifestyle on the farm,” said B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.
“It takes a lot of people to run a large farm. Having parents, in-laws and siblings on-site helps many B.C. farms produce the food we need more efficiently. Our government will continue to make life better for these hard-working farming families.”
The province says fees for non-adhering, residential-use applications will be reduced from $1,500 to $900.
Applauding the move was West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milson.
“West Kelowna’s agricultural land base and the ALR are vital components to the fabric of our community,” said Milsom.
“The proposed changes to the ALC fee structure will support our farmers by reducing costs to build housing and will further recognize the role local governments have in evaluating applications.
“By making applications more accessible and assisting local governments with processing, we can continue to work collectively to protect our food-producing land base and support jobs in the agricultural industry.”
The province says each application will continue to be reviewed to ensure it is consistent with its mandate to preserve farmland and encourage agriculture.
The province also said in recognition of the work that local governments and First Nations contribute to the process, a portion of the fees they receive will increase by 50 per cent, from $300 to $450.
Also, the province said additional amendments will make it easier for farmers with large land parcels to maintain roads on their properties.
The province said it will provide farmers more leeway without needed ALC permission when it comes to roadway fill placement or soil removal.
The changes to the Agricultural Land Commission Act will take effect on Sept. 30.