The City of Salmon Arm has amended its zoning bylaws to match Agricultural Land Reserve rule changes so farmers can have more flexibility in providing housing on their farms. (File photo)

The City of Salmon Arm has amended its zoning bylaws to match Agricultural Land Reserve rule changes so farmers can have more flexibility in providing housing on their farms. (File photo)

Salmon Arm bylaw changes to make it easier for families to farm together

Zoning amendments align size of rural detached suite with changes to Agricultural Land Reserve rules

City planning staff received accolades July 12 from council for work which will improve access to accommodation for farm families in Salmon Arm.

Staff’s work centered on increasing the size allowed for a second home on agricultural land – a ‘rural detached suite,’ aligning city bylaws with changes to housing in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

In a report to council, city planner Melinda Smyrl explained that in May 2021, staff received a rezoning application that requested amendments to the city’s zoning bylaw to increase the allowable area for a detached suite.

“Since the ALC temporary exemption to allow an additional residential unit for a relative, staff have been inundated by requests from owners and their relatives for these units. To date, the city has approved approximately 10 units for a relative in the rural areas with another 5-10 units expected in the near future. It is expected that given the current state of the housing market and availability, should the proposed amendments be adopted, demand will continue to increase,” she wrote.

Two letters from farmers were included in the report to council.

One was from Debra Hooper in May 2021, noting that she wanted to place a manufactured home on her A2, ‘rural holding’ zoned property for her daughter and family. She said city zoning allowing a second dwelling of only 968 square feet was unrealistic for a family of four.

Similarly, Mike Schroeder of Lakeland Farms wrote to council in June 2021, stating he and his wife would like to build a double-wide manufactured home of 1,550 sq.ft. for his parents, who he said “have earned and deserve a comfortable retirement on the farm that they helped to build surrounded by their family (a very common dream for retired farmers!).”

Read more: B.C. to ease restrictions on secondary farm homes in 2022

Read more: 2020 – Approval of second home on agricultural land surprises Salmon Arm council

Read more: 2020 – Secondary dwellings in North Okanagan’s ALR not banned: Ministry

Smyrl said staff are supportive of the proposed zoning amendments because they will assist in providing housing for families in the rural areas where other forms of development, such as subdivision and multi-family units, are otherwise restricted. She said the city’s agricultural zones will continue to restrict maximum residential building footprints to 500 square metres but would allow flexibility consistent with ALR regulations and the BC Building Code.

“Overall, the proposed amendments would bring the zoning bylaw in alignment with provincial regulations creating a more consistent approach for owners and staff,” Smyrl wrote.

Coun. Tim Lavery gave a shout-out to planning staff for doing a great job.

Development services director Kevin Pearson said he was pleased how quickly the changes to the city’s zoning bylaws came together, with help from a special meeting of the city’s agricultural advisory committee as well as speedy approval from the transportation ministry.

Also on July 12, Lana Popham, agriculture minister, announced changes to the ALR that would formalize temporary extensions. She said options for an additional small secondary home with a streamlined approval process had been added to regulations, among other changes.

The new provincial rules, which will also include allowing manufactured homes, guest houses, carriage suites and accommodation over existing buildings, will come into effect Dec. 31, 2021.
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Agricultural Land ReserveSalmon Arm council