Diversified agriculture bylaw approved by Council
Council gave third and final reading to the diversified agriculture bylaw on Nov. 15. This means the County’s Land Use Bylaw now has clear rules guiding the development of land and buildings for agribusiness and agritourism operations, and operators have more opportunity to expand and diversify their revenue sources.
“We support producers looking to diversify their operations while ensuring the quality of life needs of nearby residents. We’ve listened to the public and existing operators, and are confident the bylaw balances these two priorities,” said Mayor Alanna Hnatiw.
The bylaw reflects the recommendations of a community-based task force, public input provided to the task force, public input shared with Council at two public hearings, and regulatory best practices.
The amendments to the Land Use Bylaw support diversified agriculture activities on agricultural land and in the newly created land use district (Agriculture 2) which supports more intensive agricultural uses. Landowners in both districts can apply for value-added agricultural processing – such as a jam processing facility from fruit grown on-site – and retail sales of those agricultural or related products. They can also apply to host experiences and events related to farming or farm life, such as farm-to-table dinners or corn mazes. These activities were not previously included in the Land Use Bylaw.
The new Agriculture 2 land use district allows for event venues and diversified agriculture activities that have more of an impact on local roads and neighbours due to the amount of traffic and visitors. Event venues are not allowed on agricultural land.
Impacts on existing operators
Most existing general agriculture and agribusiness operations are not impacted by this bylaw, as they already comply with the Land Use Bylaw. For operators without existing approvals, this bylaw creates a pathway for them to come into compliance with the Land Use Bylaw. The County will work with those operators to apply for permits and/or rezoning, and will notify nearby property owners. Nearby property owners will be notified when a discretionary permit is approved in response to a rezoning application.
In addition to supporting the bylaw, Council will request that Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate for a provincial review of agribusiness and agritourism building code regulations. Council is advocating for the province to consider a more flexible approach that supports producers transitioning to diversified agriculture activities.
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