Agriculture Minister says farmers with building permits in place will be grandfathered under old system

Lana Popham

AGRICULTURE Minister Lana Popham reassured farmers in the House on Tuesday that an amendment to Bill 52 will mean that “people who have their permits and authorizations in place when the regulations are approved in the new year will be grandfathered under the old system.” They will no longer also be required to have substantially started construction of the foundation, she added.

Popham told the House: “I believe we can all agree that the highest and best use for agricultural land is for farming and ranching. As we work to protect the ALR, we want to ensure that we are also supporting farming families. We know how important multi-generational farming families are to our vibrant farming sector. I also know some of them may need houses larger than 5,400 sq. ft. to accommodate their families and support their farming operations.”

She added: “We are a government who listens. The Surrey MLAs brought a number of concerns to my attention. This amendment is in response to those concerns to ensure fairness for people.”

Pophan noted: “Regardless of this amendment, it is also important to emphasize that farming families – no matter what stage of application or planning they’re at – will be fine. We’ve ensured that all farming families who need the extra space to farm have a path forward at the ALC for them to build a house larger than 5,400 sq. ft. That is in the legislation. In response to concerns I’ve heard from my colleagues, I spoke to the Chair of the ALC. She told me those applications for houses larger than 5,400 sq. ft. will be decided quickly – less than 90 days on average.”

Pophan said: “The ALC will treat people fairly, transparently and will make decisions in a timely manner based on straightforward criteria. We’re working on those criteria right now to come in the new year through regulations. We’re looking at including things like the importance of multi-generational housing, good-faith investments that have been made, and applications and permits in process. Most importantly, the criteria will be specific, and will be designed to ensure there is a path forward for farming families needing extra space to support their farming work. We are committed to making sure this process works for multigenerational farming families who need the extra space. We’re going to continue to listen to people.”