New Developments in Agricultural Land Use: Am I Permitted to Build a Second Home? By Jordan Forsyth and Cristen Gleeson

The Provincial Government announced proposed further changes to its regulations pertaining to a second home on agricultural land on January 27, 2020.  The government is currently reviewing its policy to consider a significant change pertaining to second homes on Agricultural Land.  Currently, it’s only possible to have a second home where a family member or farm hand resides there, the home is a manufactured home or the home has been grandfathered under existing laws.

In February 2019 the Province brought in amendments to the Agricultural Land Commission Act including limiting the size of homes on agricultural land, restricting so-called ‘mega-mansions’ as well as other changes. These changes sparked controversy about the limited ability to have a second home on agricultural land among other issues.

Many agricultural land owners wish to capitalize on their investment by having a mortgage helper or rental suite on the property.  There is a lack of rental housing in the Fraser Valley market and this change may help alleviate that.  Alternatively, with land prices in the Fraser Valley being extremely high, some property owners wish to jointly invest in agricultural land and build homes to accommodate two families.  This new proposed change will make that a lot easier.

The changes proposed include permitting a principal residence and a small second residence on agricultural land, provided there is approval from the local government such as the City of Chilliwack or Abbotsford.  There would be no requirement to apply to the Agricultural Land Commission for approval for the second home.  The Province would remove the restriction requiring that a second home be a manufactured home or for an immediate family member.

For more information about the recent proposed changes and to express your feedback on the proposed changes, please visit the Provincial Government website at: www2.gov.bc.ca.  The Government has asked that members of the public provide their feedback on these potential changes by April 17, 2020 via email to: ALR_ALCRevitalization@gov.bc.ca