Agriculture Minister Lana Popham attends annual Beef Day barbecue at the B.C. legislature, May 2019. (B.C. government photo)

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham attends annual Beef Day barbecue at the B.C. legislature, May 2019. (B.C. government photo)

It’s still OK to put gravel on your driveway, rural B.C. farmers told

Lana Popham says women’s addiction facility still has to move

One of the many problems presented to B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham by angry farmers this week was that the NDP government’s new regulations against dumping fill on farmland have included gravelling driveways to keep them passable in bad weather.

Under fire about elderly people or grown children not allowed to stay on family farms, the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) shutting down non-farm activities including a restaurant and a women’s addiction recovery centre, and other aspects of her overhaul of farm legislation, Popham has made a concession on the gravel issue.

“In rural B.C. there’s often cases where farmers need to add gravel onto their driveways annually, because of weather conditions and climate up in the rural areas, and the driveways are long. So they would need to bring on fill onto their properties, onto their farms, in quite large amounts,” Popham told reporters at the legislature this week.

“In our legislation we actually tried to stop dumping of garbage and fill on farmland. That doesn’t work in rural B.C. because it’s an annual process for them. So we are now requiring a letter of intent every time someone brings new soil or fill onto their property.”

The latest round of ministry consultations heard about this problem and Popham said she is fixing it, by getting rid of the letter of intent requirement and the fee that goes with it.

“We heard from rural B.C. that this would mean paperwork annually for them, and a fee annually for them. And so while we’re doing our regulations, we’re going to actually change that,” Popham said. “We’re going to tweak it, because that was great input, and that’s the great thing about doing the regulations while you’re consulting, because you can hear stuff, and then change it.”

RELATED: Popham contradicts ALC on women’s addiction centre move

RELATED: Secondary home rules are killing family farms, protesters say

More than 100 rural people descended on the B.C. legislature this week to push back on Popham’s changes, particularly the elimination of “zone two” farmland outside the prime farm areas of the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan and Popham’s home turf of southern Vancouver Island.

A major objection is housing restrictions. Popham’s revamped ALC restricts additional housing to farm worker use, and that has created cases where multi-generational farmers can’t provide accommodation for aging parents or young farmers taking over the operation.

Christine Watts of Loon Lake spoke to the rally, describing her life on a small ranch where her husband has lived for 62 years.

“We looked after, on the farm, both of his parents until just a few days before they passed away, each of them,” Watts said. “And we were hoping to do the same now as we age. And that doesn’t look like it’s going to be able to be the case, unless my son lives in our basement.”

Popham said some of the protesters are farmers, but others are living on agricultural land but not farming. She said there is a procedure with the new ALC, centralized in Burnaby as part of the overhaul, to review additional home applications.

“You can put an application into the Agricultural Land Commission, and you can have a non-adhering permit, so you can apply to have an additional home,” Popham said. “But of course the ALC uses the agricultural lens when they’re approving that.”

Popham also cited the example of house size restrictions aimed at preventing “mega-mansions” from being build on protected farmland. Big homes are popular with berry farming families in the Lower Mainland, so regulations were adapted to fit that need, she said.

On the Fraser Valley Gleaners recovery centre for women in an Abbotsford farmhouse, Popham was unmoved.

“It’s an Agricultural Land Commission decision,” Popham said. “They are an independent tribunal, and so I can’t interfere with any decision that they do. But they’re also very reasonable, and so two years is quite a bit of time to find a new accommodation.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Just Posted

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Council votes to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of mass grave sites being found

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Port Hardy Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire around 3:50 a.m. on Sunday, June 13. Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street. Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP at 250-949-6335. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Firefighters respond to early morning fire near visitor centre in Port Hardy

Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street

North Island MLA Michele Babchuk. Photo contributed
COMMENTARY: MLA Michele Babchuk talks the future of forestry

‘These forests are important to every single one of us, myself included’

Dr. Prean Armogam hands over a cheque for $10,000 to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society president Rosaline Glynn. The money will be going towards a new roof for the Port Hardy seniors centre. This is the second donation Dr. Armogam has made to the society, giving them $5,000 a little over a year ago. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Doctor donates $10k to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society for new roof

This was the second donation Armogam has given to the society

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Most Read