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Farm welcomes new agri-tourism rules

August 2, 2016 1:45 P.M.

At least one local agri-tourism business will be looking at potential for growth in new rules governing activities in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Tricia Sullivan, co-owner of Sullindeo Farm on Dairy Road, expressed surprise after hearing of the new rules.

“I think it’s a good step forward,” she said. “It certainly gives farmers the opportunity to exercise entrepreneurship and promote farm growth.”

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick announced new guidelines Tuesday

around events, such as weddings, in the  ALR in support of farm-based enterprises

“The B.C. government is committed to an Agricultural Land Reserve that works for farmers and helps them grow their businesses through farming, food production and activities like agri-tourism,” Letnick said. “These regulations offer a needed balance while allowing B.C. farmers to supplement their incomes through secondary activities that support farming and agriculture on their land.”

Farmers who have diversified their operations to include tourism-related activities have often complained of excessive red tape hindering their ability to supplement farm income. Operations within the City of Kamloops must also obtain municipal approval and pay a fee.

The Ministry of Agriculture has developed a regulation that establishes that ALR land owners will not need a permit from the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to host specific activities like commercial weddings, concerts or non-agriculture related festivals, providing that:

  • The farm is classified as having farm status under the Assessment Act;
  • No new, permanent structures are being 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 is 150 or less.
  • The number of events is 10 or less in a calendar year.

An application to the ALC is required if any of the above conditions are not met. For example, a farm that wishes to hold a wedding with 200 guests, or hosts the 11th wedding on their farm in a calendar year will need to apply to the ALC. In addition, regardless of whether an application to the ALC is required, farmers must also continue to meet all relevant local government requirements, such as event hosting, liquor licenses, and fire code requirements.

Sullivan said she and her husband struggled for two years for ALC permission to host dinners on their small sheep and poultry farm in Westsyde. 

They hold a three-year permit allowing eight dinners a year with no more than 30 guests. They would like to host larger events in future and are considering becoming a stop on the Kamloops Wine Tour.

What has them scratching their heads is a letter from the ALC stating that they are not an agri-tourism business. That’s because any property under 10 acres is not classed as a farm according to the ALC and the City.

The Sullivans serve guests their own produce and vegetables grown at a neighbouring farm with a view to promoting locally grown foods and supplementing farm income. They paid $700 to the ALC and $600 to the City for their permit.

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