Delta council recently gave its endorsement for an application to build an additional farm house on a farm property on River Road West, a property within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
That application for a non-adhering residential use will be forwarded to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) with support from the city, noting that the proposal demonstrates a net benefit to the farm operation and would not adversely impact the agricultural productivity of the property.
A staff report notes the property already contains a 5,005-square-foot farm house located within an established 53,820-square-foot farm home plate. The property also includes a storage shed, four barns and an existing septic field.
The owners proposed constructing a 2,508-square-foot additional farm house within the home plate to provide on-site accommodations for their son who works full-time on the blueberry farm operation as the supervisor. The application does comply with Delta’s current Agricultural (A1) Zone.
Council was also told the ALR’s regulations have been amended to allow secondary residences up to certain size limits within the farm reserve without requiring ALC approval. Those farm houses can be larger than what is permitted under Delta’s current bylaw.
Community Planning Director Marcy Sangret agreed Delta’s current regulations are out of sync but staff, following consultation with the Delta Farmers’ Institute, will bring forward a proposed new A1 Zone.
A public hearing would not be required.
To be presented to council on Dec. 4, the draft bylaw would allow a maximum size allowable in the ALR on all farm parcels in Delta. Currently, larger secondary homes are only allowed on parcels larger than 20 acres.
In 2006, Delta took the lead to prevent speculators and would-be mansion owners from purchasing farmland to build their estates without intention of farming, limiting house sizes and secondary homes and defining a farm home plate on agricultural properties.
In 2021, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture announced new rules aimed at allowing property owners in the ALR to have increased housing flexibility.
Options for an additional secondary home have been added to the regulations, allowing farmers and ALR landowners to have both a principal residence and small secondary residence on their property with a streamlined approval process.
The additional residence can be used for housing extended family, agri-tourism accommodation, housing for farm labour or a rental property for supplemental income.