Agribusiness & Agritourism Operations

Agricultural landowners can further diversify their operations, allowing them to expand their revenue sources through agribusiness and agritourism activities.

Sturgeon County’s Land Use Bylaw outlines the rules for developing land and buildings for agribusiness and agritourism operations. The diversification needs of agricultural operators were balanced with public safety and quality of life of neighbours.

How We’re Supporting Diversified Agriculture and Event Venues

  • You can apply for a development permit* to operate a diversified agriculture operation on agricultural land. This means you could have value-added agricultural processing – such as a jam processing facility from fruit grown on-site – and add retail space to sell those agricultural or related products. You could also host experiences and events related to farming or farm life – such as farm-to-table dinners or corn mazes – that have a minimal impact on roads, public safety, and neighbours due to the amount of traffic and visitors.
  • You can apply to redistrict your land to a new district/zone that supports operations that may be larger and have more impact on roads and neighbours due to the amount of traffic and visitors. Other residents can comment on your redistricting application at a public hearing. After considering this input, if Council approves the redistricting, you can apply for a development permit.*
  • You can apply to redistrict your land to operate a commercial event venue where you could host weddings, retreats, ceremonies and other commercial events. Other residents can comment on your redistricting application at a public hearing. After considering this input, if Council approves the redistricting, you can apply for an event venue development permit.* If approved, nearby landowners could also appeal the permit, and have their say through an appeal board.

Process for New or Expanded Operations

The below steps give a general idea of the process to start or expand a diversified agriculture or event venue operation in Sturgeon County; however, the process that applies to you will depend on the specific details of your operation.

The process to apply for development permits or redistricting of land is not unique to diversified agriculture or event venue operations; these processes apply to many different situations.

Contact Planning and Development to discuss your unique situation. Email pandd@sturgeoncounty.ca or call 780-939-8275.

Diversified Agriculture Operation

Diversified agriculture is an agricultural use that brings more traffic and has more impact to the land compared to traditional agricultural activities. It includes value-added agricultural processing, retail sales of agricultural products, and commercial experiences related to farming or farm life, such as farm-to-table dinners and corn mazes. It does not include events that are not primarily agricultural in nature, such as weddings, retreats, ceremonies and corporate functions.

  • Landowners in the agriculture land use district apply for a diversified agriculture use development permit and pay the applicable fee. This process applies to all applicants of a development permit.
  • Upon approval, adhere to the conditions of development permit approval.
  • Apply for necessary safety codes permits, such as building, plumbing, gas and/or electrical permits, and pay the applicable fees.

Intensive Agriculture Operation

This use has more of an impact on roads and neighbours compared to the diversified agriculture use detailed above, due to the amount of traffic and visitors.

  • Contact Planning and Development to discuss your unique situation.
  • You may need to apply to rezone your property to the AG2 land use and pay the applicable fee.
  • Participate in the review/approval process, which includes an administrative review, three readings by Council and a public hearing. Other residents can comment on your redistricting application at the public hearing.
  • If rezoning is approved by Council, apply for the desired use(s)/permit(s) and pay the applicable fee.
  • Upon approval, adhere to the conditions of development permit approval. *
  • Apply for necessary safety codes permits, such as building, plumbing, gas and/or electrical permits, and pay the applicable fees.

Event Venue

The primary purpose of a commercial event venue is to hold events such as weddings, retreats, ceremonies and other commercial events.

  • Contact Planning and Development to discuss your unique situation.
  • Apply to rezone your property to the AG2 land use or another complementary district and pay the applicable fee.
  • Participate in the review/approval process, which includes an administrative review, three readings by Council and a public hearing. Other residents can comment on your redistricting application at the public hearing.
  • If Council approves redistricting, apply for the desired use(s)/permit(s) and pay the applicable fee.
  • If approved, nearby landowners are notified of your permit application and can appeal the approval of the event venue development permit through an appeal board.
  • Upon final approval, adhere to the conditions of the event venue permit approval.*
  • Apply for necessary safety codes permits, such as building, plumbing, gas and/or electrical permits, and pay the applicable fees.

*All development permit applications are subject to certain conditions. These can include hours of operation, parking requirements, a noise study, or other studies that relate to neighbour impacts, public safety and infrastructure capacity. Permit conditions are based on the likely impacts of the proposed development and help make sure plans are appropriate, safe and considerate of other community members.

Common Questions

How do these regulations impact existing agricultural producers?

The diversified agriculture bylaw does not apply to farmers who only cultivate crops or raise livestock, or those with valid development permits. Those operations will continue to farm without any changes.

How do these regulations impact existing agribusiness, agritourism and/or event venue operators?

Most existing agribusiness and agritourism operations are not impacted by the diversified agriculture bylaw, as they already comply with the Land Use Bylaw. For event venues and diversified agriculture operations without existing approvals, these changes provide an opportunity for operators to come into compliance with the Land Use Bylaw. The County will work with these operators to get appropriate permits and/or rezoning.

How do these regulations impact private events?

The diversified agriculture bylaw does not impact landowners’ ability to hold a private event, like a family wedding or reunion, on their property.

How will I be notified if a nearby property owner applies to develop an agribusiness or agritourism operation, or event venue?

The County gives public notice on our website and through newspaper ads when a rezoning application is received. You can provide input on that application at a public hearing. Landowners are also notified if a nearby property is approved for the development of an event venue, and can appeal that approval.

You will not be notified if a landowner applies to develop another agribusiness and agritourism operation, since these are allowed in both the agriculture and agriculture 2 land use districts.

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Sturgeon County offices will be closed Monday, February 19 for Family Day. Offices will re-open Tuesday, February 20 at 8:30 a.m.

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