Local Government Bylaw Standards and Farm Bylaws
Minister's Bylaw Standards
Section 551 of the Local Government Act provides authority to the Minister of Agriculture to establish agricultural standards (Minister’s Bylaw Standards) for the guidance of local government in the preparation of various bylaws affecting agriculture.
Ministry staff have developed a number of these standards over the years, which local governments are encouraged to adopt and can be found in the Guide for Bylaw Development in Farming Areas (Bylaw Guide). They include:
- Zoning designations, permitted uses, and minimum lot sizes
- Lot coverage, setbacks, off-street loading and parking, and height limitations
- Residential Uses in the ALR (Size and Siting)
- Agricultural Building Riparian Setbacks
- Combined heat and power generation at greenhouses in the ALR (Co-Generation)
- Temporary Farm Worker Housing (PDF)
- Medical Marihuana Production Facilities in the ALR
Farm Bylaws, Farm Bylaw Standards and ‘Regulated’ Communities
Sometimes the intent of a local government may be to prohibit or restrict agriculture within a farming area. Several provisions in the Local Government Act establish the requirements to advance this intent. These include:
- Section 481(2). If the intent is to restrict ‘intensive’ agriculture, as defined in Section 555, in a particular location, a local government must receive approval by the Minister of Agriculture. In addition, it must become ‘regulated’ under Section 553.
- Section 552. If local governments intend to make specific bylaws in relation to farming areas regarding certain farming operations (Farm Bylaws), they must also receive approval by the Minister of Agriculture. In addition, they must also become ‘regulated’ under Section 553. Furthermore, ministry staff have developed a number of Farm Bylaw Standards that address specific farming issues with which local governments would be expected to comply. These Farm Bylaw Standards include:
- Section 553. While local governments may adopt Farm Bylaws, and/or restrict or prohibit agriculture under Section 552 and/or 481(2), they must become ‘regulated under this Section. There are four communities currently ‘regulated’ under Section 553. These include the Township of Langley, City of Abbotsford, City of Delta and City of Kelowna.
Guide for Bylaw Development in Farming Areas
The Strengthening Farming Program’s updated Guide for Bylaw Development in Farming Areas (updated May 2015) provides detailed and specific information on developing and amending bylaws affecting farming areas, Minister’s Bylaw Standards, Farm Bylaws, Farm Bylaw Standards, and being a ‘regulated’ community. General information for handling other planning issues involving agriculture is also provided.
The Bylaw Development Process
The Strengthening Farming Program is committed to working together with local governments and First Nations on developing further Bylaw Standards for the benefit of agriculture in the province. Future Bylaw Standards may include:
- Permitted residential uses in the Agricultural Land Reserve
- Environmentally sensitive areas and Development Permit Areas
- Intensive agriculture on small lots
- Agri-tourism and farm retail sales