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.


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

Climate change needs to be addressed at the city level, says student

Students start petition requesting a climate action plan from City of Chilliwack

Search dogs and handlers combed Chilliwack hillsides for missing man

CASDDA dogs and handlers did not find any sign of Kristofer Couture, 25 over the weekend

Chilliwack Alliance Church brings 10th annual Five Corners Christmas to the stage

‘White Out’ explores human connection and vulnerability by disconnecting from social media

Chilliwack family’s missing dog found by letter carrier nine days later

10-month-old pit bull Frankie went missing from dog sitter on Nov. 11

Budget 2020 for Chilliwack proposes hiring six new RCMP officers

Plan puts high priority on public safety with new police, fire and bylaw officers

B.C. won’t appeal decision protecting ICBC court experts

Change to evidence rules next to save money, David Eby says

1898 Yukon gold rush photo featuring Greta Thunberg look-alike sends internet into tailspin

Jokes erupted this week after a 120-year-old photo taken by Eric A. Hegg surfaced from archives

Driver escaped uninjured as car burst into flames on Nordel Way

It happened at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in North Delta, just west of Scott Road

BC Ferries’ two new hybrid vessels set sail for B.C. from Romania

Two Island Class ferries to be in use by 2020

Distracted driving tickets not for ICBC revenue, B.C. minister says

Minister Mike Farnworth calls SenseBC analysis ‘nonsense’

CN Rail strike and lack of trucking alternatives stoke forest industry fears

Companies calling on the federal government to ‘do everything in its power’ to end the strike

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveils new Liberal cabinet

Pivotal role in his new cabinet for a minority-government era goes to Chrystia Freeland

B.C. mom, kids on bike turned away from Tim Hortons drive-thru

Car-free for years, Charity Millar ‘felt gross’ being denied service

Most Read