WATCH: A rural Saanich property owner says she’s being discouraged from running a farm-related business by the governing body whose sole purpose is to protect B.C.’s farmland
Nancy Kinney was denied a permit to bring in fill to build an equestrian facility on her property on Old East Road in Saanich.
Now instead of farmland, she says she’s left with park land.
Kinney attempted to run an equestrian facility shortly after buying the property five years ago.
She spent $400,000 on riding rings and stables, but because the land is so steep, the facility wasn’t working out.
“We had to wheelbarrow manure down six different tiers, wheel hay up to different areas,” said Kinney.
So the horses were moved out two years ago.
That’s when Kinney started looking into leveling out another part of her property to make a horse facility feasible.
Although her land is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, Kinney’s understanding of the regulations is that she doesn’t have to notify provincial authorities to bring in fill.
“Horse properties with fewer than 40 stalls are allowed to bring in fill for the purposes of that horse facility if it’s necessary,” said Kinney.
But the project also requires a permit from the Municipality of Saanich, and that’s where things get a little complicated.
Saanich requires approval from the Agricultural Land Commission before it will approve a permit, and when Kinney approached the Comission they said no.
The ALC argues the large volume of fill Kinney wants — about 12,000 dump truck loads — isn’t necessary for operating a horse facility.
Agrologist John Paul, who wrote a report on the project, disagrees.
“I would kindly ask the question on what basis is it unnecessary? I’m happy to meet and discuss it, just in my professional opinion it is necessary,” said Paul from his Abbotsford office.
Kinney said she’s frustrated because she is trying to use her agricultural land for a farm-related business, but instead it’s not being used for anything.
“I don’t plan in sitting in my house looking over park land, I bought farmland,” she said.
The ALC said Kinney would have had to notify them about the fill, whether Saanich had a bylaw or not.
They said she could still go forward with her project, she would just have to apply for non-farm use.