A development application in Kelowna will challenge provincial regulations governing residential development within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Kelowna council endorsed an application by the Baring family this week to build a home totalling 695 square metres (7,481 square feet) north of downtown near Kelowna International Airport.
But the province adopted a new regulation in February limiting residences within the ALR to no more than 500 square metres (5,382 square feet) and also outlawed second homes for family members (secondary dwellings for farm workers are allowed). The new rules gave effect to Bill 52, which responded to public concerns about residential development and speculation within the ALR.
However, the province said it would consider allowing larger houses to accommodate intergenerational farm families.
A draft of the application Kelowna will forward to the Agricultural Land Commission on behalf of the Baring family explains that they’ve spent the past two years working together to plant 80% of the 9.3-acre property to apples, peaches and nectarines. They’re now ready to build a home on the site to accommodate three generations of their family, as well as future additions.
“We are planning to have more children which means that we need a bigger space to accommodate us all,” the application states.
However, the city’s agricultural advisory committee has stated its opposition to the plans following an August 8 meeting that considered correspondence on the matter from the province.
That correspondence, from regional agrologist Christina Forbes and copied to ALC planner Sara Huber, noted that the footprint of the residence was acceptable but not the size. Moreover, she cited ministry documents indicating that the size of the dwelling could make adjacent properties unaffordable for other farmers to acquire. Farm Credit Canada’s latest farmland values report was also cited as proof that land values in the Okanagan are among the most expensive in the province.
Kelowna council unanimously agreed to forward the application to the ALC nonetheless, with councillors saying it was great to see several generations engaged in farming the property.