The owners of Fantasy Farms are thrilled to hear that most of their agri-tourism events will be permitted to go ahead with the blessing of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).
The Moran family of Chilliwack sent out a jubilant message to the community thanking them for the support.
“Last night we received the decision on our reconsideration with the ALC,” wrote Gary Moran on his Facebook page on July 28.
After three years of uncertainty, the decision wasn’t exactly what they were hoping for, but right now they are are happy to hear they will be allowed a total of 32 events of their own choosing.
A temporary use permit (TUP) from City of Chilliwack is the next hurdle.
“We will apply for this right away and thank you all for your continued support,” Moran told their clients.
Gary and Lisa Moran have been building Fantasy Farms for 26 years but last year thought they would have to shut their doors if they couldn’t put on their events like Reapers Haunted Attraction or Petey’s Pumpkin Patch.
They were advised in 2018 to apply for “non-farm use” designation from the ALC, in order to legitimize the continued use their agriculture buildings on farm land for popular events like the Reapers and the others – which they did.
They grow pumpkins and other crops at the Gibson Road farm but had become known for agri-tourism events like Petey’s Pumpkin Patch, Country Christmas, Garlic Fest, and Reapers, as well as weddings, which were held in their ag buildings, and outdoors.
The ALR rules were tightened up under the former BC Liberals government to further restrict farm land to farm-related activity. Permanent agricultural buildings, like the Fantasy Farms greenhouses, could not be used for non-farm related events on agricultural land, as they were reminded in the decision they were handed from the ALC in April 2019.
City of Chilliwack officials notified the Morans last year that they’d received a complaint about the haunted house attraction, which also triggered an investigation, and a cease and desist order.
The Morans had asked for those non-conforming uses be “grandfathered in,” but that request was rejected by the ALC’s South Coast Panel in April 2019. So they applied for a reconsideration of that decision, focusing on the 0.4 hectare section of their property used for special events, and that was successful.
Next step is applying for a temporary use permit from City of Chilliwack, which would be good for three years, with a chance to renew for another three years.
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