The Reapers Haunted Attraction won’t be scaring anyone at Fantasy Farms this year.
Ongoing compliance and building code issues related to the greenhouse structure on Gibson Road is to blame.
“This is the third year in a row that this rears its ugly head, and just before we open for the season,” said Gary Moran, owner of Fantasy Farms. “We know there are ways to work together on this but right now it doesn’t look very good.”
The Morans met with City of Chilliwack officials last week, and were informed the temporary use permit (TUP) application would not be considered for the Reapers attraction. They’ll have to re-apply for a new one to have their other events, like Petey’s Pumpkin Patch or the Maze of Terror, approved.
A separate green light came through for up to 32 events including weddings from Agricultural Land Commission in July 2020, and they had thought TUP approval would be forthcoming from City of Chilliwack.
But in a Sept. 16 letter from city hall, the Morans were told it would not work, and that their greenhouse structure was still not up to code.
Part of the letter from the city reads: “As discussed, at this time the city is unable to consider the operation of the haunted house attraction (Reapers Haunted House) within the TUP application until such time as compliance with the construction requirements as outlined within Protection Engineering’s field review report dated Aug. 21, 2020 is achieved, or an alternative method for acceptable management of fire and life safety is provided and certified by a qualified professional consultant.”
So the permit is on hold, pending further instructions from the Morans, who had sought professional advice on how to bring the greenhouse into compliance, but will be seeking further advice from a “code specialist” and producing a fire safety plan.
“The engineer said that poly structures don’t meet BC Fire codes, with respect to roofing,” Moran said.
So they’ll be considering all their options for the fall season to see what events they can mount after all.
Mayor Ken Popove said in an emailed statement that city staff members have been trying to work with Fantasy Farms since 2016, to bring their buildings into compliance.
“Unfortunately, the owners have not addressed a variety of safety concerns, including fire, electrical and structural issues. We feel that the past four years have been more than enough time for the owners to bring their building into compliance,” Popove said.
While the ALC approved events at Fantasy Farms from an agricultural use perspective, they are not required to consider fire and life safety or building code concerns which are the sole responsibility of the municipality.
So in order to host events in the ALR, businesses must apply for a TUP from the city to ensure they are meeting zoning requirements.
“Unfortunately, under provincial legislation we cannot provide a permit if the building is not up to the standards of the BC Building Code,” Popove explained.
So while indoor activities are a no-go at the farm, the outdoor ones can go ahead.
“Fortunately, Fantasy Farms can continue to run all their outdoor activities, such as the pumpkin patch, train rides and outdoor educational components,” Popove added.
The outdoor activities also pose “less of a safety risk” during the pandemic.
“Our concern is the use of structures that do not meet the BC Building Code or Fire Code,” Popove concluded. “I know we look like the ‘no fun police’ right now, but we hope that Fantasy Farms will take public safety seriously by addressing long-term deficiencies under the BC Building Code, Fire Code and Electrical Code.
“In the meantime, we hope their outdoor activities are safe and successful.”
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