New agricultural land rules will support farming families, says NDP MLA Harwinder Sandhu

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VERNON – New Democrat MLA Harwinder Sandhu says new rules will add flexibility and increased housing options for a small secondary home in the Agricultural Land Reserve. The additional residence can be used for anything from housing extended family to an agritourism accommodation, to housing for farm labour, to a rental property for supplemental income.

“I come from a farming family, and I understand and respect the value of the hard work farmers do. The Vernon Farmers’ Market is one of my favourite places to go in our community, and without local farmers, we wouldn’t be able to take in everything they have to offer,” said Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee. “We’re expanding options for secondary residences on farmland so that local farmers, workers and their families have more options to ensure we can all enjoy their bounty.”

The new rules will increase stability of local food systems by increasing economic opportunities for farm owners. These changes will also allow for a streamlined approval process in which applicants only need to apply to a local government or First Nation government, rather than the Agricultural Land Commission.

Flexible housing options permitted under the regulation include, but are not limited to:

  • garden suites, guest houses or carriage suites,
  • accommodation above an existing building,
  • manufactured homes, and
  • permitting a principal residence to be constructed in addition to a manufactured home that was formerly a principal residence.

There is no longer a requirement that additional residences must be used by the landowner or immediate family members.

This new residential flexibility is the result of an engagement process that included discussions with farmers and the greater community. The new rules will come into effect December 31, 2021.

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