New rules offer ‘balance’ on special farm events

Agri-tourism-BCGovALR land owners won’t need a permit to host weddings, concerts or non-agriculture related festivals if they meet certain conditions under new rules announced by the provincial government Tuesday (Aug. 2, 2016).

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick said the changes are aimed at helping farmers grow their businesses “through farming, food production and activities like agri-tourism. 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.”

The new regulation states ALR land owners won’t need a permit from the Agricultural Land Commission to host agri-tourism events as long as they have farm status, don’t build any new permanent structures, restrict parking to non-permanent areas of their farm, limit the number of guests to 150 or less and the number of events to 10 or fewer per year.

Otherwise, they must apply to the ALC. The ministry said, for example, that a farmer wanting to hold a wedding with 200 guests, or hosts the 11th wedding on their farm in a calendar year, will need to apply.

“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.

Restrictions don’t apply to wineries, meaderies and cideries “as many are established providers of these services and already have infrastructure, licensing and procedures in place.”

An application is also not required for a wedding of a family member or friends at no charge.

Local governments can’t stop weddings on ALR land but can require the land owner to apply for a permit that could specify conditions related to amplified sound, parking, fireworks or other disturbances. (Such situations come before the TNRD from time to time.)

Other activities that don’t 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 such has harvest and Christmas fairs
  • special promotion events such as private or public special occasion events for the promotion of farm products.

The regulation is in effect immediately.

Union of B.C. Municipalities president Al Richmond said the regulation will provide clarity for local governments and land owners. “I support the proposed changes.”

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