Agricultural Area Plan Phase 2 Report


Phase 2 Report:

Issues and Opportunities Analysis

Working Draft - Confidential


Submitted to:

Mr. Charles Nash

Deputy Corporate Administrator

The Corporation of the Township of Spallumcheen

4144 Spallumcheen Way

Spallumcheen, BC, V0E 1B6

Submitted by:

Zbeetnoff Agro-Environmental Consulting

15787 Buena Vista Avenue

White Rock, BC, V4B 1Z9

Contact: Darrell M. Zbeetnoff

604-535-7721, FAX 604-535-4421


zbeetnoff@telus.net

http://www3.telus.net/zbeetnoff/


and

Quadra Planning Consultants Ltd.

2976 Robson Drive

Coquitlam, BC, V3E 2T1

Contact: Michael W. McPhee

604-944-9570, FAX 604-944-6701


mmquadra@ telus.net


June 05, 2006


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Table of Contents


Table of Contents........................................................................................................ i

1.0 Introduction .................................................................................................... 1

2.0 Issues Emerging From the Agricultural Situation Profile .................................. 1

2.1 Agricultural Contribution to the Community ................................................ 1

2.2 Protection of the Resource Base Issues......................................................... 1

2.3 Agricultural Viability Issues ......................................................................... 1

2.4 Agro-Environmental Interface Issues ............................................................ 2

2.5 Regulatory Issues......................................................................................... 2

3.0 Issue Analysis Framework ............................................................................... 2

3.1 Agricultural Sustainability ........................................................................... 2

3.2 Agricultural Working Landscape................................................................... 3

4.0 Objectives of the June 2006 Workshops........................................................... 4

5.0 Next Steps: Agricultural Area Plan ................................................................... 8


List of Tables


Table 1: Agricultural Goals and Opportunities............................................................ 5

Table 2: Example Opportunities, Potential Options and Possible Recommendations.... 9


1


1.0 Introduction


The Township of Spallumcheen is undertaking an Agricultural Area Plan to assist with

implementation of agricultural policies contained in the municipality’s Official

Community Plan (OCP). This Phase 2 Report provides a context for analyzing key

issues facing agriculture and the opportunities (and constraints) that need to be

considered.

This Report builds on information developed thus far in the Agricultural Area planning

process:



the Phase 1 Report: Agricultural Situation Profile,



the agricultural goals identified by the Township’s Agricultural Advisory

Committee, and



the findings of a Public Open House held in the Township of Spallumcheen in

November 24, 2005.

This Report is a “working document”. At this stage, it is meant to provide a framework

for conducting the two workshops to be held in June 2006 with representatives of the

farming community and other interested persons. Feedback from the workshops will

be used to finalize this report and provide important information for the completion of

the Agriculture Area Plan.


2.0 Issues Emerging From the Agricultural Situation Profile


The Phase 1 Report: Agricultural Situation Profile characterized the agricultural

“landscape” of Spallumcheen and revealed several areas where issues in relation to

agriculture could emerge. Some of these issues may require regional or provincial

action, while others may be best dealt with by the local level of government.

Nevertheless, in no particular order or priority they may be grouped as follows:


2.1 Agricultural Contribution to the Community



In 2001, the direct sales and income multiplier effect are estimated to have

contributed between $114 million and $133 million to the local and regional

economy, of which wages and salaries were $4.67 million.



Agriculture generates employment for 665 farm operators, a hired labour force

of 298 person years, and 530 indirect community-based jobs.


2.2 Protection of the Resource Base Issues



Fragmentation of land in the ALR



Many small parcels



Lot size represents potential for rural residential incursion into the ALR



Non-farmed areas of the ALR tend to be smaller parcels



Limited availability of irrigation ground water



Political and environmental obstacles to surface irrigation development



Potential spillover impacts from the City of Armstrong’s growth


2.3 Agricultural Viability Issues



Relatively high proportion of small farms


2



Relatively high proportion of farms with low gross farm incomes



Average age of farm operators increasing



Average per farm gross farm receipts declining, but average per farm gross

margin recovering



Average per farm gross margin increasing in pace with the Consumer Price

Index



Average per farm expenses trending higher than Farm Products Price Index



Rapidly increasing farmland prices



Limited local agricultural marketing (including processing) for some

commodities



Increasing pressure for recreation in the countryside.


2.4 Agro-Environmental Interface Issues



Agriculture in competition with residential demand for water



Aquifer resources may be nearing extraction capacity in some areas



Aquifer resources in several areas vulnerable to contamination



Livestock manures are contributing to total nutrient load in the valley



There is an opportunity for the number of farmers completing the

Environmental Farm Plan to increase.


2.5 Regulatory Issues



OCP is supportive of agriculture



Continuing pressure to rezone and subdivide lots that could fragment ALR



Direct growth to existing subdivisions and adjacent lands outside ALR



Landscape buffering between farm and non-farm areas needs to occur on nonfarm

areas



Continued monitoring of home occupations within ALR to meet zoning bylaw

regulations.


3.0 Issue Analysis Framework


The Township of Spallumcheen is qualitatively different from many local governments

in that it has embraced its agricultural sector. Thus, the perspective of the Issues and

Opportunities investigation is not whether agriculture should be supported, but how

this support should be provided. The OCP states:


“The primary goal of the Township is to preserve the agricultural land base, the

community’s rural character, and environmental attributes while allowing

changes in land use that will not compromise the primary goal.”


3.1 Agricultural Sustainability


In examining the background materials to the Agricultural Area Planning process, it is

evident that high priority has been placed on the promotion of sustainable agriculture

in the township of Spallumcheen. Spallumcheen’s motto is:


“Where farming comes

first.”


The very first goal in the Mandate of the Agricultural Advisory Committee is to:


3


“…Ensure the continuing sustainability of agriculture.”


While there are literally hundreds of definitions of sustainability in the literature, a

useful working definition is the following:


1


"A sustainable agriculture is one that, over the long term, enhances environmental

quality and the resource base on which agriculture depends; provides for basic

human food and fiber needs; is economically viable; and enhances the quality of

life for farmers and society as a whole."


In this light, it is clear that the Township has embraced the concept of agricultural

sustainability in its goal to protect and enhance agricultural enterprise in

Spallumcheen. At some future point, when the Agriculture Area Plan takes hold in the

municipality, the Township may wish to consider revising its motto to


“Where

sustainable farming comes first.”


3.2 Agricultural Working Landscape


2


The Mission Statement of the Agriculture Area Plan process as agreed to by the

Agricultural Advisory Committee is to:

“Allow profitable farming to flourish by:



Promoting best agricultural practices



Strengthening and supporting agriculture



Encouraging “good neighbour” communications



Protecting the rural character



Initiating public education.”

The Mission Statement recognizes that:



Profitability is a key component of sustainability.



There is the need to protect agricultural resources and the environment, and



the agricultural sector operates within, and contributes to a way of life in the

community.

These statements are underpinned by the knowledge that protecting and enhancing

the “working landscape” is critical for creating farm operator confidence and

promoting conditions for profitable farming.

The value of these two concepts is that they can act as “filters” for assessing or

evaluating the merit of various opportunities and options to achieve agricultural goals

and objectives. For example, what type(s) of home-based income opportunities may be

expected to promote agricultural sustainability goals and maintain or enhance the

agricultural working landscape? What types of policies could lead to the expansion of

the working landscape into vacant or unfarmed agricultural areas? Or, what kind of

initiatives would increase the economic and social contributions of agriculture in the


1


American Society of Agronomy, 1989.


2


See Curran, D. 2005. Protecting the working landscape of agriculture: A smart growth

direction for municipalities in British Columbia. West Coast Environmental Law Research

Foundation.

http://www.wcel.org/wcelpub/2005/14233.pdf


4


community? These two filters have been validated by the Agricultural Advisory

Committee prior to the June 2006 workshops to ensure the assumptions are

applicable to the Township’s agricultural goals.


4.0 Objectives of the June 2006 Workshops


The Public Open House of November 24, 2005 was convened for the purpose of

receiving public comment on how five broad categories of goals could be pursued with

the Township’s agricultural community. The Open House was accompanied by an

Agricultural Background Overview Report.

Feedback at the Public Open House resulted in the confirmation of a number of

concerns, identification of issues related to agricultural activity, and ideas for

promoting the sector in the community. The Public Open House findings also

indicated some areas of greatest concern:



allowing home-based businesses to supplement farming



amount of regulation in the sector



develop lease agreements and tax incentives to preserve land for agriculture



protect land in the ALR



noxious weeds



irrigation water cost and availability



presence of unfarmed parcels

In Table 1 below, the work of the Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC) and findings

of the November, 2005 Open House have been slotted into three columns on the right.

The two columns on the left, in grey lettering, show how the deliberations of the AAC

and public comments fit into the overall sustainability framework that guides the

Agricultural Area Plan. Note that some comment has been received in all sustainability

areas. Other opportunities are those we have added to suggest other items that may

emerge from the planning process. At this stage, no effort has been made to be

comprehensive or to create the perception that the full range of opportunities has been

defined. That task will be undertaken once the workshops are completed.

In this Phase, we are consulting with the Spallumcheen farming community and

general public for the following reasons:



To report on the key findings of the Agricultural Situation Analysis.



To focus on key issues and objectives and to identify potential solutions

(opportunities) to achieve the objectives. Some issues from the November 2005

workshop will need to be clarified further in order to clearly articulate

opportunities.


5


Table 1: Agricultural Goals and Opportunities


Sustainability

Concepts

Sustainability Core

Principles

Planning Goals &

Objectives

How? Opportunities



Support and

strengthen local

agricultural

enterprise



Create local markets for

agricultural products



Integrate local industrial base

with agriculture



Create local employment

opportunities for farm operators



Permit on-farm home-based

business opportunities



Assist farmers to respond to local

demand



Advertising

programs for local

products



Purchase “local food”

policy



Develop agroindustrial

economic

strategy



Develop a

transportation plan

that facilitates

movement of farm

labour, production,

equipment, and

services



Economically viable -

If agricultural farms

or firms fail

financially, they are

not sustainable, no

matter how

ecologically sound or

socially responsible

they might otherwise

be



A sustainable

agricultural system

(SAS) is profitable



Strategize with the

farm sector to avoid

extra costs and

regulation



Work with the farm

sector to make

operations more

productive and

efficient



Decrease cost of inputs and farm

entry



Ensure non-farmers are aware of

farming sights, sounds and

odours



Consolidate farm parcels



Assist access of farms to idle land

in the ALR



Build strategic

relationships with

adjacent

municipalities



Streamline

regulations



Pursue innovative

lease arrangements

for vacant

agricultural land


6


Sustainability

Concepts

Sustainability Core

Principles

Planning Goals &

Objectives

How? Opportunities



Protect the resource

base for working

agriculture



Protect farming

activities from

unwarranted

harassment



Protect supply of water for

irrigation purposes



Protect air quality



Protect land in the ALR from

outright loss



Protect land in the ALR from

fragmentation and isolation



Promote access of farms to idle

land



Decrease cost of inputs and farm

entry



Assist farmers to respond to local

demand



Ensure adjacent non-farm public

is made aware of farming sights,

sounds and odours prior to

purchase



Encourage buffering

in adjacent

jurisdictions on land

next to farm

operators



Require farming

covenants or notices

on title for new

development



Develop strategies

for accommodating

agricultural

population growth



Limit encroachment

on farming from

non-farm related

development of

infrastructure into

rural areas (e.g.,

roads, sewer, water,

utilities)



Pursue innovative

lease arrangements

to make vacant land

available for farming



Streamline

regulations



Develop advertising

programs for local

products


7


Sustainability

Concepts

Sustainability Core

Principles

Planning Goals &

Objectives

How? Opportunities



Ecologically sound -

If agriculture

destroys the

productivity of its

natural resource

base – water, air, or

soil – it will lose its

ability to produce



A SAS is based on

the prudent use of

renewable and/or

recyclable resources.



A SAS protects the

integrity of natural

systems so that

natural resources

are continually

regenerated.



Promote best

agricultural

practices



Minimize the

impact of

agriculture on the

environment



Effective weed control



Control impact of Township roads



Control use of private occupied

and vacant lots



Protect well water quality



Protect irrigation water supply

and quality



Promote good stewardship



Promote completion of

Environmental Farm Plans in the

farming sector



Encourage

implemented

Environmental Farm

Plans for farmers



Adopt more efficient

technologies and

conservation

practices



Socially responsible -

If agriculture doesn't

meet the needs of

society – as

consumers,

producers, and

citizens – it will not

be supported by

society



A SAS improves the

quality of life of

individuals and

communities.



A SAS is guided by a

land ethic that

considers the longterm

good of all

members of the land

community.



Protect rural

character



Encourage “Good

Neighbour”

communications



Initiate public

education



Raise agricultural

awareness of social

obligations



Promote the business and lifestyle

of farming



Promote the agricultural

exhibition



Support non-consumptive use of

the rural landscape



Advertise agriculture locally



Encourage enhanced

farming techniques



Build sustainable

growth relationships

with adjacent

municipalities



Develop agriculturesensitive

trail and

public use protocols

through agricultural

areas



Offer farm open

houses



Install agricultural

signage



Work with School

District #83


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5.0 Next Steps: Agricultural Area Plan


The Phase 2 Report will be completed after the workshops, when the options will be

assessed in light of sustainability and working landscape considerations. The options

are mechanisms that can be used to achieve the articulated objectives. Taking the

opportunities identified by participants at the workshop and with the input of the

Agricultural Advisory Committee, recommendations will be presented in the

Agricultural Area Plan in Phase 3 of the project.

Table 2 provides example options and recommendations based on applying a working

landscape filter to the goals and opportunities identified in Table 1. The Table is

presented here for discussion with the Agricultural Advisory Committee as an example

of our approach to developing the options and recommendations in Phase 3.


9


Table 2: Example Opportunities, Potential Options and Possible Recommendations


Goal Opportunities Working Landscape

Filter

Example

Options

Example

Recommendations



Support and

strengthen local

agricultural

enterprise



Advertising programs for

local products



Purchase “local food”

policy



Attract local agribusiness



Promote communitybased

agricultural

economy



Work with the farming

community to develop

marketing and

processing

opportunities



Establish an Agricultural

Economic Commission

within the Township



Develop an agroindustrial

strategy



Develop a business

incubator park for homebased

businesses



Strategize with the

farm sector to avoid

avoidable extra

costs and

regulation



Work with the farm

sector to make

operations more

productive and

efficient



Build good strategic

relationships with

adjacent municipalities



Streamline regulations



Pursue innovative lease

arrangements for vacant

agricultural land



Maximize agricultural

land base available for

nutrient management

an d crop/livestock

production



Reduce speculation on

agricultural land



Work with other

communities to

integrate growth and

development



Plan to restrict

availability of rural

residential parcels



Develop regional growth

strategy in NORD



Municipal purchase and

lease of agricultural land



Protect the resource

base for working

agriculture



Protect farming

activities from

unwarranted

harassment



Require buffering on

land next to farming

operators



Require farming

covenants or notices on

title for new

development



Limit growth of

infrastructure into rural

areas (e.g., roads, sewer,

water, utilities)



Develop edge zoning to

enhance agricultural

operations



Ensure rural

infrastructure supports

the working landscape



Assist adoption of

more efficient

practices and

technologies to make

the resources “go

farther”



Develop development

permit area guidelines for

lands adjacent to

agriculture



Develop rural nutrient

management plan



Undertake agricultural

irrigation feasibility study



Require agricultural

impact assessment to

accompany any new

application for

development


10


Goal Opportunities Working Landscape

Filter

Example

Options

Example

Recommendations



Promote best

agricultural

practices



Minimize the

impact of

agriculture on the

environment



Encourage implemented

Environmental Farm

Plans for farmers



Adopt more efficient

technologies and

conservation practices



Encourage agricultural

operations use best

management practices



Implement the

Environmental Farm

Plan



Recommend participation

in EFP as a condition for

new agricultural activity



Hold information sessions

in the community to

inform farmers about the

program



Protect rural

character



Encourage “Good

Neighbour”

communications



Initiate public

education



Raise agricultural

awareness of social

obligations



Encourage enhanced

farming techniques



Build good relationships

with adjacent

municipalities



Develop agriculturesensitive

trail and public

use protocols through

agricultural areas



Offer farm open houses



Install agricultural

signage



Ensure that nonagricultural

development enhances

the rural character



Ensure that support

for agriculture in the

community increases



Attract more

participation and

investment in

agricultural enterprise



Pursue rural

recreation policies

that support

agriculture



Develop farm-based

recreational stewardship

programs



Promote agriculture in

school curriculum



Assist farmers to develop

agricultural tour packages



Highlight community

farms in press