VICTORIA (November 27, 2018) – Under pressure from Opposition MLAs the NDP government has accepted part of an amendment to Bill 52, the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act 2018, that was introduced by the BC Liberals in response to concerns raised by angry farmers.
That part of the amendment, brought forward by Delta South MLA and BC Liberal Agriculture Critic Ian Paton, will extend the time period for farmers to adjust and submit their residential design permit applications in light of the government’s proposed changes to house sizes on the ALR.
“We heard the concerns of the community loud and clear at a public meeting in Surrey over the weekend— that they were caught off guard by the government’s limitations on home size, which don’t work for large multi-generation farming families,” says Ian Paton, BC Liberal Agriculture Critic and MLA for Delta South. “I’m pleased the Minister has listened to us and agreed to give these farmers more time to sort out their permits.”
“Government MLAs at the Surrey event tried to mislead these farmers in a bid to reassure them, but must have realized the farmers weren’t buying it,” says Marvin Hunt, MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale. “We’re happy the NDP government has taken our advice, but disappointed they didn’t bother to consult with the farmers in the first place. If they had, this mess could have been avoided.”
Meanwhile, the government rejected another part of the BC Liberal amendment which proposed a total home foundation footprint of 350 square metres, which would reduce the amount of valuable farmland being taken up by a home—something British Columbians agree on. The move could have fostered innovative building practices, encouraging farmers to build ‘up’ instead of out onto more farmland.