A new zone for hobby farms in Abbotsford will allow small-scale agriculture, and a suburban neighbourhood southwest of the city’s core is set to be the first area set to be considered for such designation.
The city has been considering how to govern land use on 121 properties along Doncan Avenue, Sunvalley Crescent and Simpson Road since last October, when council voted to exclude the area from an update to Abbotsford’s zoning bylaw.
The properties are located outside of Abbotsford’s urban development property. One hundred homes are on half-acre lots, with another 21 on one-acre parcels. Since the neighbourhood was created in 1960, the area has been governed by five different zoning bylaws, which have allowed a range of agriculture. But in the last zoning bylaw, the properties were given an unintentional designation out of line with historic use.
The city consulted with residents earlier this year and staff have now proposed making the neighbourhood the first area designated as “Suburban Residential Hobby Farm.”
The consultation largely focused on what type of agriculture should be permitted on the lots. More than half of respondents supported some type of agriculture. Residents were receptive to the raising of small animals, fowl and fruit and vegetables, but almost universally opposed to rules that would allow permit the raising of large animals or commercial agriculture activities.
Around 60 per cent of those who responded supported a draft of the proposed hobby farm zone.
Council voted Monday to send the proposal to a public hearing in two weeks.
Coun. Les Barkman, though, was opposed, citing concerns raised by residents about the potential for agricultural uses to draw rodents to the area.
Barkman also warned that the move could impact city revenues if residents try to obtain farm status for their small lots. To obtain farm status, residents on properties that permit agriculture must show $2,500 in revenues. If they do so, the value of their land is assessed at a much lower rate, saving property owners hundreds or thousands of dollars.
“I think there’s going to be some very creative bookkeeping to get that status,” Barkman said.