South Okanagan farmers now have a little more freedom to do what they want with their property after the provincial government earlier this week relaxed Agricultural Land Reserve use restrictions.
Landowners no longer require a permit to host weddings, concerts or non-agriculture related festivals.
The move, the provincial government says, was made to “help farmers grow their incomes and help British Columbians share the growing passion for local foods and farming.”
There are conditions attached:
- The farm must be classified as having farm status under the Assessment Act;
- No new, permanent structures can be built;
- All parking must be on the farm (no road parking) but the parking area must not be permanent nor interfere with the farm’s agricultural productivity;
- The number of guests at any event must be 150 or less; and
- The farm can only hold up to 10 events per year.
Farmers must also continue to meet all relevant local government requirements, such as event hosting, liquor licenses, and fire code requirements.
The restrictions in the regulation do not apply to wineries as many are established providers of these services and already have infrastructure, licensing and procedures in place.
Local governments cannot prohibit weddings from taking place on land in the ALR, but can require the farmers to apply for a permit which could specify conditions related to amplified sound, parking, fireworks or other disturbances.
The policy of not requiring permits for activities described in the ALC’s Policy on Agri-tourism Activities has also been formalized into the regulation.
Activities that do not require an application to the ALC include:
- Farm tours and farm demonstrations;
- Hay, tractor and sleigh rides;
- Corn mazes, pumpkin patch tours and related activities
- Seasonal promotional events (e.g., harvest and Christmas fairs and activities);
- Special promotional events (e.g., private or public special occasion events for the promotion of farm products)
The regulation goes into effect immediately.