Agribusiness and Agritourism Operations

Agricultural producers and other landowners can expand and diversify 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.

Property owners can apply to operate a diversified agriculture operation on agricultural land. This means landowners in the agriculture land use district 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.

To operate a more intensive agricultural operation or event venue, landowners must first apply to have their land redistricted to a new land use (AG2) that supports more intensive agricultural uses. This application requires Council approval. This land use district is for activities that have more of an impact on local roads and neighbours due to the amount of traffic and visitors.

Process for new operators

A new agribusiness or agritourism operator must decide if their business will include an event venue.

  • If there is no event venue:
    • Apply for a diversified agriculture use/permit and pay the applicable fee.
    • Upon approval, adhere to the conditions of approval. Conditions are unique to each application; examples of conditions could include setting specific hours of operation, dedicating adequate parking, conducting a noise study, or entering into a development agreement for infrastructure upgrades if activity is expected to exceed current intersection safety capacity.
  • If there is an event venue:
    • Contact Planning and Development to discuss your individual situation. This could include applying to rezone your property to the AG2 land use or another complementary district and paying the applicable fee.
    • Participate in the review/approval process, which includes an administrative review, three readings by Council and a public hearing.
    • If approved by Council, apply for the desired use(s)/permit(s) and pay the applicable fee. Permitted uses include diversified agriculture or agricultural support service, and the discretionary use is for an event venue.
    • Upon approval, adhere to the conditions of approval. Conditions are unique to each application.

We’ve developed an intensity matrix that will help determine the impacts of proposed developments and appropriate conditions. This matrix will also help us determine if a proposed development aligns with the intensive agriculture, diversified agriculture, or agriculture support service use. Specifics of each assessment are reviewed with applicants.

Common Questions

  • What is diversified agriculture?

    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. It does not include events that are not primarily agricultural in nature, such as weddings, retreats, ceremonies and corporate functions.

  • What is considered an event venue?

    The primary purpose of an event venue is to hold events for entertainment, public assembly, and/or the preparation of food and beverage services. Weddings, corporate retreats, large dinners, and parties are common events that could happen in such venues.

    Bed and breakfasts, recreation facilities, visitor accommodation and home-based businesses are not considered event venues.

  • How do these regulations impact existing agricultural producers?

    The diversified agriculture bylaw gives agriculture operators more opportunity to expand and diversify their revenue sources and gives clear guidelines for developing land and buildings.

    Farmers who only cultivate crops or raise livestock are not impacted by this bylaw. This bylaw does not impact agricultural producers’ ability to farm their land, or their ability to hold a non-commercial private event, like a family wedding or reunion, on their property.

  • 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 operators without existing approvals, this bylaw offers a way for them to come into compliance with the Land Use Bylaw. The County will work with these operators to apply for permits and/or rezoning, and will notify nearby property owners, as needed. Nearby property owners are notified when a discretionary permit is approved in response to a rezoning application. 

  • How do these regulations impact private events?

    The diversified agriculture bylaw does not impact landowners’ ability to hold a non-commercial 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?

    You will be notified if an adjacent property owner has been approved to develop an event venue on their property, and you can appeal the development permit. You are notified in response to a rezoning application.

    Because other agribusiness and agritourism operations are allowed in both the agriculture and agriculture 2 land use districts, adjacent landowners are not notified.