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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mayor Walt Cobb waves from atop a tractor as he turns onto Oliver Street in the Daybreak Rotary’s annual Stampede Parade. Patrick Davies photo.
Lack of funding, volunteers has Daybreak Rotary bowing out of Williams Lake Stampede parade

Club learned this week it won’t be receiving local government funding, for the second year in a row

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Williams Lake’s Brock Hoyer films a segment of the newly-released The Way Home in the city of Revelstoke. (Ryen Dunford photo)
Brock Hoyer stars in new snowbike film: The Way Home

The film is completely free and was released on YouTube on Jan. 22, 2021

The body of Kenneth Seymour Michell was discovered Jan. 14, 2021, behind a Williams Lake business a day after he was released by a judge on conditions. (Photo submitted)
Family looks for answers after Indigenous man dies by suicide following release from custody

System does not care about Indigenous peoples, says First Nations Leadership Council

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

Most Read