It’s yet another blow for B.C. farmers trying make a living on their land, says Delta South MLA Ian Paton.
The owners of the Rusted Rake Farm Eatery in Nanoose Bay announced that they have been forced to shut their doors for good after the Agricultural Land Commission denied their non-farm use application, said Paton, the Liberal co-agriculture critic.
“I have had the opportunity to visit the Rusted Rake in the past and was greatly disappointed to hear today’s news,” said Paton last Friday.
“It is an excellent little roadside eatery making use of their own farm produce and meat. They were told to build alcohol sales into the operation to meet ALR regulations. Now, with construction of their new brewery already underway, they have been turned down on their reconsideration application. The family is devastated,” he said.
The closure of the Rusted Rake Farm Eatery is another example of agricultural businesses struggling under the rigid ALR regulations set out by the NDP government, Paton added.
Rather than simply closing down any business that doesn’t follow their strict rules to the letter, the ALC needs to take into account the unique context of applications and work with owners and farmers to reach a resolution that best serves the local community, said Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell.
Delta council this year, meanwhile, expressed concern about the regulations they said could impact local agri-tourism and special events on local farms. They pointed out the annual B.C. Hop Fest in Abbotsford, a beer festival that was to have taken place this September on agricultural land, had to be canceled because it no longer met the ALC requirements to be considered an agri-tourism event.
The new rules specify agri-tourism is to promote or market farm products produced on the farm, while no more than 150 people can attend a gathering for an event on the Agricultural Land Reserve, such as a wedding, unless the ALC grants special permission.