Most agricultural land in Central Saanich is zoned Agriculture (A-1), and is within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). 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.
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. Uses beyond what is permitted specifically in the zoning, may be permitted if supported by Council and the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). An ALC application is required whenever a land owner of property within the Agricultural Land Reserve intends to:
- include land;
- 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 use regulations. Examples of permitted uses include:
- agri-tourist activities;
- farm retail;
- wineries & cideries; and,
- equestrian facilities.
Generally, one dwelling unit 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. There may be other options for additional dwellings, as permitted by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), such as a temporary mobile home for family. If you have a active farm that requires farm help to manage, there may be an opportunity to apply for a farm help residence. This application would be reviewed by Council, as well as the ALC, so it is important to demostrate the need for help on the farm. Remember, properties less than 2 acres in area are not regulated by the ALC and therefore would not have an opportunity for additional dwellings. Detailed information 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. Check out the Building and Renovating page for more information about the building permit process.