Lisa and Gary Moran, owners of Fantasy Farms in Chilliwack, stand inside several of their greenhouses which are being used for agritourism. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Fantasy Farms told to stop holding special events on farmland that go against agricultural rules

The Morans say it might spell the end of their seasonal events like Reapers Haunted Attractions

The owners of Fantasy Farms in Chilliwack say provincial rules might spell the end of their seasonal events like Reapers Haunted Attractions.

Lisa and Gary Moran grow pumpkins, and other crops at the Gibson Road farm, but have become known for agri-tourism events like Petey’s Pumpkin Patch/Country Christmas, Reapers, and a Garlic Festival, held in their ag buildings, as well as outdoors.

“We were told to cease and desist on Oct. 4,” said Gary Moran told The Progress. “But this is our livelihood. There’s no way we’d survive otherwise.”

According to ALR rules, permanent agricultural buildings, like the Fantasy Farms’ greenhouses, cannot be used for non-farm related events on agricultural land, as per the decision of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) in April 2019.

City of Chilliwack officials notified the Morans that they’d received a complaint about the haunted house attraction, which triggered an investigation.

“We hadn’t even opened Reapers yet. Someone responded to some of our advertising,” Moran said.

The farm owners had applied to the ALC to have their buildings’ use “grandfathered” for non-farm use like special events and weddings, after rules were changed by the previous BC Liberal government, but that request came back “refused as proposed.”

The rules stipulate that no existing permanent structures are allowed to be used for “non-farm events.”

“As the ALC panel refused the proposal to allow the use of the subject property to host annual and special events, occurring outdoors and in permanent buildings, beyond what is permitted within the ALR use regulation…the advertised events are considered to be in contravention of ALC resolution #116/2019, City Bylaws and ALC regulations,” according to the Oct. 8 letter from City of Chilliwack.

The Morans tried to suggest their greenhouse structures are well built and much safer than a tent in the field as seen in other agritourism operations, but to no avail.

“B.C. is one of the only farming communities on the continent that does not fully embrace agritourism,” Moran said. “There should be a new zoning designation for Agritourism and Agrieducation.”

If there is a way to get through this the Morans said they will let the public know as they are trying to get these rules changed.

“We will try to figure out a way to keep the pumpkin patch going and make it as much fun as it is today but with all the unrealistic regulations from the agricultural land commission it may be impossible,” Moran wrote in a social media post.

“We have worked very hard over the past 26 years in building this farm into a safe, fun, family-events farm for our community and many surrounding communities, and it breaks our hearts that we will no longer be able to do this. We would like to thank all of our past and present customers for your support and love we will miss you all.”

City officials sent a letter to Fantasy Farms on Oct. 4 requesting a written response of their intentions by Oct. 11.

The Morans are sharing a petition against the provincial legislation. They say they will continue with Reapers until the end of the month.

The Progress has reached out to Agriculture Minister Lana Popham for comment.

READ MORE: Festival for all things garlic

READ MORE: Weddings and some non-farm events allowed


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Gary Moran describes details in his train station at Fantasy Farms to members of the Canadian Council of the Blind before they board a small train during a tour of his farm in May. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Gary Moran describes details in his train station at Fantasy Farms to members of the Canadian Council of the Blind before they board a small train during a tour of his farm in May. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Just Posted

Keeping kids busy with spring break camps and events in Chilliwack

Here’s a handy list of events and classes for kids being offered in Chilliwack March 16 to 27

Local developer’s Abbotsford homes shortlisted for two national housing awards

Algra Bros. won in 2014 for Garrison Crossing brownstones in Chilliwack

VIDEO: Body discovered in aftermath of Hope apartment fire

RCMP can’t confirm cause of death yet, but have ruled out foul play

Victoria Avenue could become a one-way street in Chilliwack

Chilliwack considering ways to boost DT parking

Chilliwack widow ‘crushed’ over stolen T-shirts meant for memorial blanket

Lori Roberts lost her fiancé one month ago Tuesday now she’s lost almost all she had left of him

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

Province shows no interest in proposed highway between Alberta and B.C.

Province says it will instead focus on expanding the Kicking Horse Canyon to four lanes

Mysterious bang booms over Sumas Mountain once again

Police unsure of source, quarry companies say, ‘not us’

First case of COVID-19 in B.C. has fully recovered, health officer says

Three other cases are symptom-free and expected to test negative soon

A&W employees in Ladysmith get all-inclusive vacation for 10 years of service

Kelly Frenchy, Katherine Aleck, and Muriel Jack are headed on all-expenses-paid vacations

Via Rail lays off 1,000 employees temporarily as anti-pipeline blockades drag on

The Crown corporation has suspended passenger trains on its Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto

VIDEO: Knife-wielding man arrested after barricading himself in Lower Mainland Walmart

A man had barricaded himself in the freezer section of the fish area at a Walmart in Richmond

Budget 2020: Weaver ‘delighted,’ minority B.C. NDP stable

Project spending soars along with B.C.’s capital debt

Langley teen who died of apparent drug overdose to receive a hockey-themed memorial

Police report on Carson Crimeni case now in the hands of Crown counsel

Most Read