A non-farm use application for this property on Grigg Road was forwarded by Chilliwack council to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) — with support — for a barn and a second dwelling. (City of Chilliwack image)

Weddings held on Chilliwack farm defied rules that are now permitted

Biz operator hasn’t ‘earned trust’ says councillor since weddings carried on after being told to stop

A commercial wedding operator in Chilliwack that showed “flagrant disregard” for the rules is taking steps to come into compliance.

As a result a non-farm use application was forwarded by Chilliwack council this week to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) — with support.

It passed Tuesday at city hall after some vigorous discussion by council with a vote of 4-2.

Coun. Sam Waddington and Mayor Sharon Gaetz voted against.

The focus of the “non farm use” application was to approve the barn used for wedding receptions, and another building on the farm site to be used as a second residential dwelling, on the property located at 9977 Grigg Rd.

The Rosedale address is the same one listed as a business operating as Shelby’s Pond where weddings are held.

Coun. Chris Kloot, chair of the city’s Agricultural Advisory Committee, said the ALC application for non-farm use was one of several such non-farm use applications being considered by city council.

“This was one of those applications coming forward that is basically tidying up and dealing with some non-conforming issues,” he said. “We want them to come into compliance and this is a step in that direction.”

He acknowledged there were some challenges from noise complaints to bylaw enforcement.

“I think it’s in the best interest of the applicant to make this work in his neighbourhood,” Kloot said.

Coun. Waddington said sometimes a business can outgrow its footprint, and then have to bring properties and practices into compliance with existing rules.

“This was not that,” said Waddington.

“The applicant was asked to stop (holding weddings) and was fined, more than 1o times. It’s hard to say in good faith they worked with staff (to come into compliance). It’s been a serious challenge.”

Also, the ALC changed the rules last year, deciding to allow 10 commercial weddings or other events per year, without requiring a permit, on farm properties.

READ: ALC allows farm weddings

“The applicant has caused our community grief, and there were numerous fines,” Gaetz said.

Bylaw enforcement staff estimated there were 10 to 12 fines of $500 each from the City of Chilliwack for operating the business without a licence.

In addition, those fines were not paid in a timely manner, and city officials had to go after them through the bylaw adjudication process.

“There hasn’t been an appetite to follow the rules,” said Mayor Gaetz.

Coun. Sue Attrill said that despite a “flagrant disregard” of the rules, and complaints from neighbours, ALC has now authorized the practice of weddings in the ALR.

“So there is no reason not to send this forward now with support,” Attrill said, after acknowledging it was a “difficult” one to support for council, that has led to “huge costs and aggravation.”

Mayor Gaetz asked hypothetically, “if any city had a problem with the noise, overparking or overdrinking” in the case of weddings on farmland, what tools would it have?

The staff response was that those powers would be fairly limited if any, since the ALC rules overrule city bylaws, so they can’t stop them from holding weddings, or withhold a business licence, except for “very good reasons.”

“I too would prefer this history had not happened,” said Coun. Chuck Stam, but since the issues were being addressed, he would support it.

Council tried to be “gracious” and was “lenient in that regard,” said Mayor Gaetz, adding later she hoped they’d show city officials how they can work in compliance with the rules.

Coun. Waddington said he understood the logic of a barn for wedding receptions, given the sometimes rainy nature of B.C.

“But we are giving them a notch up on every other business that doesn’t have a building,” Waddington said.

He also said he didn’t think the applicant had “earned” council’s trust, given the items listed in the staff report.

But the applicant said last year they are not “inhibiting” neighbours from ag activity.

“We don’t understand why people can’t choose where to have their weddings,” Rich Kramp of Shelby’s Pond said in a Black Press story in 2015 when the ALC first cracked down on the events.

“As a result of our recent closure, all the weddings we had booked were cancelled for 2016.

“We have remained in touch and almost all chose to leave B.C. for destination weddings. We aren’t inhibiting the ‘right to farm’ to any of our surrounding neighbours. There is no impact to our existing property to host these functions. No agricultural land is disturbed.”



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Chilliwack city council won’t reconsider cannabis retail applicant’s rejected pot shop

Reconsideration motion for proposed pot shop on Promontory defeated in three-to-three vote

Two week lock down lifted for Kent Institution

A search at the prison found nearly 26 grams of hashish and a cellphone

Chilliwack city council sides with seniors against five-storey apartment project

Developer sent back to the drawing board over concerns about sun-blocking building downtown

Harrison Hot Springs to partner with Sts’ailes for reconciliation event

The event will be funded by a grant meant to build dialogue between cities and local First Nations

Ryan McMahon brings new tunes to Acoustic Emporium in Chilliwack

Album is ‘snapshot of a soon-to-be middle-aged man trying to beat the blues,’ says singer-songwriter

Coquitlam RCMP release video in search for witness to crash that killed girl, 13

Witness is described as a slim Asian man with short, black hair, no facial hair and wearing glasses

B.C. firefighters rescue frozen dog from ice

The fire crew found a dog stuck in the at Lake Paul on May 20

Most British Columbians agree the ‘big one’ is coming, but only 50% are prepared

Only 46 per cent of British Columbians have prepared an emergency kit with supplies they might need

B.C. man to pay Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party $20k over lawsuit

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

Sitting and sleeping on downtown sidewalks could net $100 fine in Penticton

The measure, which still requires final approval, would be enforced between May and Sept. 30

Survey finds 15% of Canadian cannabis users with a valid licence drive within two hours of using

Survey also finds middle-aged men are upping their usage following legalization

B.C. man killed in logging accident ‘would have done anything for anyone’

Wife remembers 43-year old Petr Koncek, father of two children

Most Read