BC Liberals on Thursday said that multi-generation farm families have been left in the lurch by the NDP government, which has shown a lack of transparency in its handling of house sizes on the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
“Agriculture Minister Lana Popham chose a quiet Saturday morning to bring Bill 52 into force, and now the BC Farm Owners Association reports a number of farm families’ farmland housing plans have effectively been scuttled without warning,” said Marvin Hunt, MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale. “Surrey NDP MLAs publically promised the farmers they would be grandfathered, but that’s not what’s actually happening.”
“Farmers now have to prove they are farmers, just like B.C. homeowners have to prove they are not speculators,” said Ian Paton, BC Liberal Co-Critic for Agriculture and MLA for Delta South. “The Minister was clear she wanted to end speculation on the ALR by restricting home size. Just like the speculation tax, farmers now face added paperwork and fees to prove they are farmers.”
“Inter-generational farming takes place throughout the province, and the last thing these farmers need is more paperwork going into spring planting,” said Linda Larson, BC Liberal Co-Critic for Agriculture and MLA for Boundary-Similkameen. “This situation could have been avoided if the government had accepted our Opposition amendment to extend the time frame for farmers to adjust their residential design permit applications to reflect the government’s proposed changes to house sizes— but the Minister would not listen.”
Popham introduced Bill 52 in early November, with only an interim report on the proposed home size changes having been completed. The final report continues to sit on her desk, said the BC Liberals.