A District ‘A’ Farmers’ Institute meeting will be held June 17 at Rusted Rake Farm, which has dealt with land use problems in their farm-to-table restaurant. (Rusted Rake Farm/Facebook)

Concerned farmers speak up about legislative changes to ALR land use

Bills 15 and 52 the focus of ‘emergency’ meeting to be held in Nanoose Bay

For the first time in their history, the District ‘A’ Farmers’ Institute has opened up one of their meetings to the public.

The group, headed by president Janet Thony, is discussing what they see as a host of issues related to provincial legislation around Agricultural Land Reserve properties.

Topics for the meeting (Monday, June 17 at 1 p.m.) will include the decision to allow marijuana to be grown on ALR land, the prohibition of farm-to-table restaurants on ALR land without an adjoining brewery or winery and the removal of land owners’ rights to apply on their own behalf to the ALC. Other topics to be addressed are the Institute’s broader issues with general management of the ALR.

While acknowledging that Bills 52 and 15 were designed to address real concerns, the institute is grappling with the rapid changes.

Rusted Rake Eatery in Nanoose Bay, the location of the meeting, has run into issues with the operation of their restaurant, deemed non-farm use, on ALR land.

The eatery is currently petitioning the Ministry of Agriculture to change bylaws with the ALR.

Another one of the meetings’ attendees is Meghan McPherson. She said she’s been blindsided by changes to Bill 52 which removed the ability of ALR land-owners to house immediate family members in a secondary dwelling on the property.

Her plan was to move her in-laws and retired mother onto her property in the Comox Valley. Their family had been pooling their resources and planning the transition for over a year.

McPherson says that she was taking all the proper steps by consulting closely with the Comox Valley Regional District and obtaining all necessary permits to build their secondary modular home when the legislation came into effect with little warning.

Since then, she’s started a Facebook page in order to connect with other farmers in similar situations.

Thorny expects to see concerned farmers travelling to the meeting from Powell River, the Sunshine Coast, Salt Spring Island and various points across Vancouver Island.

emily.vance@pqbnews.com

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