City looking to limit the size of houses on agricultural land

City staff proposing a limit of 2,000-square-metres for the ‘residential footprint’

Kelowna city planners are recommending limiting the size of residential footprints on agricultural land in the city to 2,000-square-metres. —Image: Capital News file

Kelowna’s planning staff say the city should follow the lead of other municipalities in B.C. and limit the size of homes built on farmland.

In a report going to city council this afternoon, a number of bylaw amendments to the city’s Agricultural Plan are proposed, including limiting the residential footprint of new homes on farmland to 2,000 square metres.

In recent years, the city has seen very large “estate” homes built on farmland, and the number appears to be growing.

Currently about 11 per cent of the 1,900 houses on agricultural land are larger than the proposed 2,000-square-metre limit, says the staff report. Between 2007 and 2014, 30 per cent of the 94 new homes built on agricultural land in the city had footprints bigger than 2,000 square metres.

Residential footprints include the portion of the lot that includes all structures, landscaping, driveways and parking areas associated with the principal dwelling.

Fifty-five per cent of the land in the City of Kelowna is considered agricultural, and 38 per cent is in the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve.

A recent survey of 10 B.C. municipalities with substantial agricultural land bases found six have already moved to the 2,000-square-metre limit.

The city wants to make the move as part of a balance it says is needed between the residential needs of the farm and preserving as much agricultural land as possible for agriculture. The move is also based on Ministry of Agriculture guidelines.

Another of the recommendations calls for mobile homes located on farmland to be occupied only by the farmer’s immediate family. If that is the case, the report says, the overall residential footprint could be increased by up to an additional 1,000-square-metres.

The city’s agricultural zoning bylaw already allows for a separate footprint for temporary farm worker housing.

The proposed changes to the Agricultural Plan will be discussed by council this afternoon at its regular council meeting.

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