A Langley family who found themselves in a bind over changed housing rules on agricultural land may get a reprieve from the provincial minister of agriculture.
“There will be more details to come in the next few weeks, but we expect soon to allow a grandfathering period for manufactured homes for immediate family members in order to better balance the protection of the ALR with the diverse needs of the people who call it home,” said Minister Lana Popham.
Cathy and Brian Fichter had hoped to share a five-acre farm with their daughter Alanah Fuduric, her husband Ryan, and the couple’s six children.
Cathy and Brian’s plan to place a modular home on the property was foiled by a change to rules over homes and housing in the Agricultural Land Reserve, leaving all 10 members of the family sharing a single house.
The Fichters had already bought their modular home, arranged for the permits to move it to the site, set up for the installation of septic, and followed what they thought were all the regulations. But they missed the Feb. 22 deadline under changes introduced by Bill 52, by four days.
Neither the Fichters nor their family, nor local officials were aware of the looming changes.
In the past, local governments had issued permits for secondary homes for farmland. Now the Fichters are waiting to hear from the ALC for an exemption, but have already waited more than the 60 business days they were told a decision would take.
“Storage for our possessions has been the biggest cost,” Cathy said. “Emotional toll is much worse.”
The family hasn’t even tried to work the cost of re-doing permits if they do get permission, she said.
“I am committed to helping B.C. farmers farm, to support good jobs for people, and help producers continue to grow the food that British Columbians count on,” Popham said in a statement released on the housing issue.
“Right now, people who live in the ALR and want to build additional homes on farmland to support their farming operations can do so with permission from their local government and the Agricultural Land Commission,” Popham said. “As we’ve continued to work on regulations to support Bill 52, we’ve been listening to local governments and people living in the Agricultural Land Reserve.”
The Fichter and Fuduric family are still waiting to hear directly from the ALC or government.
“We are trying to take this optimistically,” Cathy told the Advance Times.