Brides, bands allowed back on farmland

No permit required for weddings, festivals on farms if fewer than 150 people attend, says Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick

Bride arrives in decorated horse and carriage for an outdoor wedding.

Almost a year after B.C. farm weddings were banned due to a crackdown on agricultural land use rules, the B.C. government has clarified what commercial activities are allowed on farmland.

Farmers can host up to 10 commercial weddings, concerts or non-agricultural events per year without a permit from the Agricultural Land Commission. Farmers can take payment to host a wedding or other event as long as no more than 150 guests attend and a list of conditions are met, according to regulations that took effect Tuesday.

To qualify, event hosts must provide all parking on the farm rather than along roads, with no permanent parking lots or structures, and the event must end in less than 24 hours. For more than 10 events a year or exceeding 150 guests, properties with farm tax status must apply to the ALC for a permit.

The new regulation also clarifies ALC policies to allow, with no permit, farm tours and demonstrations, hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkin patch tours, harvest and Christmas fairs and special occasion events to promote farm products.

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick said the regulation requiring farms to generate at least 50 per cent of its revenue from farm products is also scrapped, after consultation in the past year suggested the new rules instead.

The crackdown on farm weddings came last fall, when the ALC issued stop-work orders to B.C. farms including the Fraser Valley, Kelowna and Vancouver Island.

The restriction came after the province expanded farm uses to allow breweries and distilleries to operate on protected farmland with the same rules used to permit wineries. The rules allowed for processing of farm crops into products such as juice or jam for commercial sale.