Saanich residents Colleen O’Farrell (left) and Katherine Little (right) fought for the right to operate farm stands from their front yards. On May 25, council voted to amend a bylaw so farm stands in Saanich can apply for a temporary use permit to operate. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich farm stands can stay open

Council amending bylaw to allow for temporary use permits

Roadside farm stands in Saanich’s urban zones can stay open while the District looks to tweak its bylaws to allow them.

Current bylaws don’t permit roadside carts or farm stands within the Urban Containment Boundary leading to some frustration amongst residents.

On May 25, council unanimously voted to amend the Saanich bylaw so temporary use permits can be provided for farm stands in the Urban Containment Boundary. While council and staff work to amend the bylaw, Saanich will not enforce the farm stand bylaw.

In April, a flower cart owner in Saanich was told to shut down her home-based stand after operating for about one month. Colleen O’Farrell’s business, Foxglove Flowers, was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic so she started to sell her blooms outside her home to bring in income and spread cheer in the community.

READ ALSO: Saanich florist holds her ground in fight for roadside farm stands

Katherine Little, owner of the Little Stand where she sold jam outside her home, was also shut down after a neighbour complained.

In an online petition to save her farm stand, O’Farrell collected more than 3,000 signatures of support. She previously told Black Press Media she never meant to break the rules or cause problems but wanted to keep making floral arrangements and bring colour to people’s lives.

She said the stand has fostered a sense of community in her neighbourhood as well.

Letters from residents were also submitted to council in support of farm stands in Saanich. Many spoke about supporting local businesses and the community feel the farm stands provide.

“As my wife Heather wrote earlier, we both ‘were heartened to see such a cheery stand outside our excellent Foxglove Flowers on Heath Street,’” wrote Dave Traynor. “‘It almost broke my heart to see that they may have to shut down their little driveway stand.’”

READ ALSO: Support blooms as Saanich flower stand operator takes on bylaw

At the May 25 council meeting, Coun. Nathalie Chambers said she is happy council is moving forward with amending the bylaw.

“I think by enabling people to make ends meet by considering their backyards as a bank account, it’s a different way of achieving stewardship,” Chambers said.

Coun. Judy Brownoff also noted that council should check in with the provincial health officer about standards such as distancing and cleanliness as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Once a bylaw amendment is passed by council, those operating farm stands will have 30 days to legalize their use by applying for a temporary use permit. Until then, they will be able to operate without enforcement from the District of Saanich.

-With files from Devon Bidal

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


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