Permitted uses in the Agriculture A-1 zone are defined in the Land Use Bylaw, Section 38.1, and these include agriculture, agriculture processing, greenhouse, equestrian and residential single family. Land located in the Agricultural Land Reserve is regulated by the ALR Regulation, in addition to District bylaws. Uses beyond what is specifically permitted, may be permitted if supported by Council and the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).
Permit Type or Use
Generally, one principal residence, less than 500 m² in total floor area, is permitted on the property. Within the dwelling unit, a secondary suite is permitted, but it must be located in the dwelling and not in a detached building.
Any additional dwellings, including farm help accommodations or a manufactured home, would require special approval by way of a "non-adhering residential use". This application would be reviewed by Council, as well as the ALC. Detailed information on this process is available on the ALC website.
Agricultural buildings, larger than 10 sq. meters, require a building permit as per the building bylaw. Along with the BC Building Code, the National Farm Code applies to aspects relating to structural sufficiency, fire safety and health requirements. Accessory buildings related to the residential use, would have the same requirements as accessory buildings on residential properties. If your property is zoned A-1, there are no limits to lot coverage, but setbacks and height are regulated in the Land Use Bylaw. Check out the Residential Building Permit page for more information about the building permit process and for accessory buildings (not for agricultural use).
An agricultural building for the purposes of cannabis production must meet regulations specific for these buildings. Land Use Bylaw Part 5, Section 36B includes minimum building setbacks to property lines, watercourses, ALR boundaries, school and parks. Additionally, the bylaw reflects the amended ALR Regulation which requires new structures to have a "base consisting entirely of soil" to be designated as "farm use". Further details on this can be found in the ALC Information Bulletin 04.
The ALR is a provincial designation in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use. Farming is encouraged and non-agricultural uses are controlled. The ALR takes precedence over, but does not replace, other legislation and local bylaws that may apply. An ALC application is required whenever a land owner of property within the Agricultural Land Reserve intends to:
- include or exclude land;
- subdivide land (including homesite severance); and,
- use land for non-farm purposes.
Various activities are designated as “farm use” as per the ALC Act and have regulations relating to size, type of retail and more. Examples of permitted uses include:
- agri-tourist activities;
- farm retail;
- wineries & cideries; and,
- equestrian facilities.
Your ALC application starts at the ALC portal and will be forwarded to the District for review. Payment for the application is made at the District office. Once staff have completed their review, Council will have an opportunity to comment further, prior to ALC considering the application.
Plumbing permits are required for new or altered plumbing systems. Accessory buildings are generally permitted only two fixtures, such as a vanity sink and water closet. Bathing (shower) and kitchen facilities are not allowed in accessory buildings, as per the Land Use Bylaw. The permit can be issued to a ticketed plumber (Trades Qualification as well as current Business Licence) or competent homeowner. If a homeowner is applying for a plumbing permit, they must demonstrate plumbing code knowledge and submit an isometric drawing of the proposed plumbing prior to permit issuance. If the plumbing permit is related to a building permit, the building permit must be issued prior to the plumbing permit. Typical inspections would be under-slab plumbing, rough-in plumbing and final.
If your property is served by a private sewage system AND your construction project includes any of the following, you must engage an authorized practitioner (P. Eng or ROWP) to review your system:
- Increase to the floor area; or
- Locating any new structure close to an existing septic system.
The P. Eng or ROWP would then provide, as part of a building permit application,
- an assessment letter/compliance inspection report, with certification stamp, indicating that alterations are NOT required to the septic system due to the proposed construction; or,
- a Record of Sewage System document with details of the modified or new system, accepted by Island Health (VIHA).
Private onsite sewage disposal systems are regulated by the provincial Sewerage System Regulations and monitored by Island Health . Please contact Island Health for further details.
The Official Community Plan identifies environmentally sensitive areas (riparian, shoreline and sensitive ecosystems) that may be designated on your property. However, these Development Permits (DP) do not apply for normal farm practices protected by the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act. While the DP Guidelines do not apply to normal farming practices, they do apply to non-farming activities on agriculturally zoned properties. For example, construction of a non-farm building, a residence or a parking area on land within the Agricultural Land Reserve would be subject to the Development Permit Guidelines. Check out this link for more information on Development Permits.