Regional District of Nanaimo examining amendments to agriculture rules

NANAIMO – RDN is working its way toward possible agricultural regulation amendments.

The Regional District of Nanaimo is working its way toward possible amendments to regulations on agriculture.

The regional district has been inviting comments, holding open houses and running a survey to gather information from the farming community, with the aim to identify zoning roadblocks that affect agriculture.

Barbara Ebell, owner of Nanoose Edibles Organic Farm, said she’s been active in consultation and said it doesn’t get to the guts of what’s wrong with agriculture on Vancouver Island and how to change it.

“My public question was what they were doing about guaranteeing water for the farmers because with all the development all close into a lot of the farms, the water’s being gobbled up from the aquifer by these developments, where there was nothing, they’re planning to put 200 houses,” said Ebell.

Kristy Marks, a regional district senior planner, said open houses conclude this week and meetings with farmer’s institutes, as well as with other members of the farming community, remain.

She estimates consultation will conclude in early November.

Proposed amendments could go before regional district directors by early January, followed by referrals to external agencies. Bylaw amendments would then be voted on after that.

Marks said the key to the project is to help remove barriers and obstacles to agriculture in the region and to create more consistency between regional district regulations and some of the uses permitted in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

“It’s a project that’s sort of been identified out of our agricultural area plan and the resulting implementation action plan, so it’s one of the projects that’s on our radar to be addressed in the current work plan, which is during the 2014-16 work period,” said Marks.