Urban agriculture advocate group wants Lantzville to rescind proposed bylaw

Urban agriculture advocate group wants Lantzville to rescind proposed bylaw.

Advocates for urban agriculture in Lantzville want council to abandon its work to create a bylaw and instead address the issue in the official community plan.

Jamie Wallace, coordinator for Friends of Urban Agriculture in Lantzville, said the group wants council to examine other options and take a page from communities such as Lake Cowichan, which has a similar population to Lantzville, and addressed urban agriculture in its OCP.

Wallace said including OCP language governing and encouraging urban agriculture would make Lantzville a more resilient and sustainable community.

“We’re trying to encourage council to look at alternative options because food security is a major issue for many people in our community, because we don’t grow enough of our own food,” he said. “Why not forget the bylaw and encourage people to grow food.”

He said the current council inherited the proposed bylaw from the previous council and is trying to work with what it was given. But FUAL suggests issues or disputes arising between neighbours that can’t be resolved amongst themselves could be addressed by improving existing nuisance bylaws.

If the bylaw is pursued, FUAL wants more community input and from professional staff and advisors.

“We don’t believe that the community has been given an opportunity to give input into this bylaw,” said Wallace.

Lantzville Mayor Jack de Jong said council revised the bylaw in January.

Those revisions include dropping duplicated information already covered in existing bylaws governing noise or smoke and changing the proposal that urban farmers could only conduct wholesales at the gate, which wasn’t practical for small-scale farmers.

The bylaw remains at second reading and is being examined by staff and legal professionals.

The bylaw next goes to a second reading and will probably go back to a public hearing because of the revisions. There isn’t a timeline, but de Jong said he’d like to see it happen over the next few months.

De Jong said council wants to make it so the bylaw is liberal on urban agriculture growers, but not make it so it can be the scale of a commercial operation.