Draft bylaw allows agriculture as home-based business

New rules will make it legal for Lantzville residents to profit from urban gardens.

The District of Lantzville has drafted zoning bylaw changes that would make market gardening a legitimate home-based business.

The new rules won’t be made public until a draft bylaw lands in front of council for debate this January, but the district’s chief administrative officer says it will include allowing the commercial production of crops like fruits, vegetables and trees.

A December staff report on policy options also reveals that the document could include restrictions preventing people from leaving compost piles uncovered during the rainy season, using noise-scaring devices and storing equipment outside. A clear definition around uncomposted manure – the No. 1 concern in the district’s long-running urban agriculture debate – is also expected.

Lantzville Mayor Jack de Jong said he is encouraged by the work done by staff members and looks forward to seeing market gardening on the books.

“After more than three years, now [we could] finally end up with an urban agricultural bylaw that will be acceptable to the community,” he said. “Our planner did a really good job on involving the community and looking at all points of view.”

The urban agricultural bylaw was revived in May, after Lantzville officials agreed to consider allowing horticulture as a home-based business but the community has been grappling with  the issue of urban farming since 2010. The issue was triggered when the municipality and Compassion Farm went head-to-head over an illegal commercial food operation. Under the current zoning bylaw people are not allowed to sell what they grow on residential lots.

The draft bylaw is expected to be presented to council for a first reading Jan. 27.

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