The board of directors of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako discuss regulations of the Agricultural Land Commission at its Sept. 5 meeting, in Burns Lake. (Blair McBride photo)

RDBN blasts agriculture land use rules

Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) board members slammed the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) over new land use rules, in a Sept. 5 meeting.

The directors expressed frustration and disappointment when Jason Llewellyn, Director of Planning told the board of directors that the ALC expects the RDBN to enforce the new rules, which most directors regard as burdensome.

At issue is a regulation announced earlier this year that limits fill deposits (soil or gravel) to 1,000 square metres in area if someone is building or maintaining a structure for farm use or for a main residence.

“If you’re developing an agricultural parcel with a house and a driveway and you bring in gravel to the building site in the driveway, you’re limited to a 150 metre-long driveway. Anything more you need Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) approval in order to bring that gravel in,” said Llewellyn.

“That’s not acceptable. There’s no way that we as a board are going to take the liability of enforcing that rule,” said Gerry Thiessen, RDBN board chairperson.

Llewellyn explained that if the fill exceeds 1,000 metres2, the individual must submit a Notice of Intent to the ALC, which has 60 days to assess the request. If more information is needed from the builder, the ALC can take another 60 days before making a decision.

“If you don’t want to wait through a 120-day long process to get an answer you can make a separate application process, which has an application fee of $1,500. A six metre-wide driveway could be 150 metres before you would be having trouble,” Llewellyn said.

In response, Clint Lambert, Electoral Area E Director denounced the policy as way for the ALC to “get another $1,500 to fix your driveway. I think the ultimate goal is to stop people building houses on their land.”

“So it’s our responsibility to go back and say ‘you weren’t allowed to build your driveway. So now you’re in non-compliance. So tell your contractor that we’ve given you a stop work order.’ For us to get involved in that and be the government’s face of bad news – they’re putting us in a really bad spot here,” Lambert said.

The regulation is rooted in the problem of illegal dumping in the Lower Mainland, as Llewellyn said.

“Farmers can make millions of dollars accepting construction waste to be dumped on their property. Another issue is, you get a five, 10 acre property with a mansion and a swimming pool and they’re trying to limit the scale of those types of developments in the ALR, largely in the Okanagan.”

In an email to Lakes District News, a Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson confirmed that “bringing fill into the ALR without first submitting a notice of intent with the ALC and receiving the CEO approval [or] obtaining the approval of a soil/fill use application by the ALC” is considered illegal dumping.

Answering the question as to what homeowners are supposed to do if they want to lengthen their driveway using fill that might exceed 1,000 m2, the spokesperson echoed Llewellyn, saying that a notice of intent must be submitted to the ALC and be approved.

“The ALC looks at many factors when carrying out its mandate and each application has its own distinct set of circumstances and is considered on its own merits.”

The spokesperson added that landowners in a first offence against the fill rule could face a fine of up to $1 million, imprisonment of up to six months, or both.

“This law was strengthened to protect farmland in B.C., deter fill-dumping and help farmers farm,” said the spokesperson.

Telkwa mayor Brad Layton criticized the regulation saying “’one size fits all’ does not work” and said it’s a southern B.C. problem being imposed on the north.

“Can’t we just tell them ‘no’? I have a problem with it. The restrictions coming out of the ALR are hurting us in the north because of specific issues in the south. It is for lack of a better term BS. I don’t know what we’re legally allowed to do or say but we need to send a strong message,” Layton said.

Kim Grout, Chief Executive Officer of the ALC acknowledged to Lakes District News that the regulation is narrow.

“I’m sure it’s completely different from how people have operated historically. The government’s intention is to prohibit illegal and excessive fill. We’re trying to work with property owners to make it work,” she said.

The board of directors’ discussion on the issue ended without a resolution and a report from RDBN is expected to be brought back for the board’s future consideration.

“The board has plans to address this topic with the province at the Union of BC Municipalities convention [on Sept. 23-27], and based on the response, will be able to determine next steps,” said Curtis Helgesen, Chief Administrative Officer of the RDBN.


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
Send Blair an email
Like Lakes District News on Facebook

Just Posted

No parole for 12 years for Burns Lake man convicted of second degree murder

Judge said he did not believe Albert Giesbrecht’s claim his gun discharged accidentally

No parole for Giesbrecht until 2031

Justice David Crossin said he did not believe Giesbrecht’s claim his firearm discharged accidentally

Lakes District Community choir performs

The Lakes District Community Choir presented its annual Christmas Concert on Dec.… Continue reading

Happy 100th Birthday Helen

Helen Hiebert celebrated her 100th birthday. On Dec. 6 there was an… Continue reading

Practice makes perfect

Girls hockey players hold a practice in the Tom Forsyth Arena in… Continue reading

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Almost 14,000 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016: new national study

17,000 people have been hospitalized for opioid-related poisoning

Chevron’s move to exit Kitimat LNG project a dash of ‘cold water’ for gas industry

Canada Energy Regulator approved a 40-year licence to export natural gas for Kitimat LNG

Most Read