CITY OF LANGFORD
Planning and Zoning
2nd Floor, 877 Goldstream Avenue
Langford, BC V9B 2X8
phone: (250) 474-6919
fax: (250) 391-3436
Date: November 16, 2009
Subject: Langford’s Agricultural Strategy
The purpose of Langford’s Agricultural Strategy is to provide a strategic implementation plan for the policies outlined in the Langford’s Official Community Plan (OCP) and the recommendations provided in agricultural suitability review prepared by C&F Land Resource Consultants so that Langford can promote and support community agricultural activities, edge planning and ensure the compatibility of urban and agricultural land uses. This strategy prepared in cooperation, and at the suggestions of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) is also intended to assist the ALC in evaluating Langford’s applications to exclude land from the ALR.
At the regular meeting of Council on October 16th, 2006 Council passed the following resolution with respect to agricultural lands in Langford:
1. Direct staff to establish a new amenity fee secured at the time of all rezoning approvals in the amount of $500 per residential unit and $500 per 3000 sq. feet of commercial floor area, to contribute to the ALR Acquisition Fund;
2. Direct staff to undertake an agricultural viability assessment of all ALR land within the City of Langford using consultants as necessary;
3. Direct staff to prepare an agricultural management strategy that would encourage Council to acquire and manage all viable ALR land identified in the agricultural viability assessment over time.
The first part of this resolution has now been completed and implemented within Table 1 of the Affordable Housing, Parks and Amenity Contribution Policy.
The second part of this resolution has also been completed by the City commissioning a study prepared by C&F Land Resource Consultants titled “Agricultural Suitability Review for the South Langford Plan Area” which addresses exclusively those lands that are currently within the ALR.
Langford’s OCP contains a number of policies in Section 11 intended to promote and support the agricultural sector and food security in Langford, and provides the guiding principles of Langford’s Agricultural Strategy. A draft Agricultural Strategy has been completed for Council’s consideration.
In order for the ALC to consider Langford’s applications to remove land from the ALR, the Commission has requested that Langford develop an Agricultural Strategy. The draft Agricultural Strategy attached to this report as Appendix A was reviewed and supported by ALC staff. In their comments to Langford staff, the ALC commends Council for being “ahead of the curve” with respect to collecting amenity contributions towards the ALR Acquisition Fund.
Summarized below are the proposed goals and objectives of the strategy for Council’s consideration:
Goal 1: Increase community agricultural activities
Objective: Encourage a mix of community agricultural activities and food security initiatives.
Objective: Work with local community groups to raise awareness about local food and urban agriculture.
Goal 2: Protect the urban/agricultural land reserve boundary.
Objective: Ensure development along the urban/agricultural land reserve boundary does not preclude long term viability of farmland.
Objective: Increase public awareness among residents who live adjacent to agricultural land. Objective: Mitigate conflict between new residential developments adjacent to ALR lands.
Goal 3: Provide a net-benefit to agriculture
Objective: Increase Agricultural Production in Langford.
Objective: Ensure infrastructure investment on agricultural land secured in the public trust.
Lists of specific actions are provided for each objective in order to achieve the goals and objectives outlined in the strategy. Some of the actions are already underway while others are new actions and prioritized using a scale of “low, medium and high.” Council may wish to note that the majority of actions could be carried out by staff resources and that the Agricultural Strategy is intended to be a policy document and therefore provides Council with the flexibility to amend the document to meet the current and future needs of the community.
In the strategy there are several new initiatives, identified as actions, with respect to promoting and supporting community agricultural activities, edge planning and ensuring the compatibility of urban/agricultural land uses. Described below are some of these actions to be considered by Council for implementation.
Under the Local Government Act, municipalities are permitted to establish Agricultural Development Permit Areas (DPA). This is a highly recommended way to ensure appropriate edge planning, and optimum land use and compatibility along both sides of the urban/Agricultural Land Reserve Boundary. Council may wish to consider creating a 100m (328 ft) Agricultural DPA measured from all ALR boundaries as of Sept 1st 2009 in Langford. If
Council supports an Agricultural DPA then Council may wish to request that staff prepare draft design guidelines for Council’s consideration that reflect this new designation.
Providing environmental impact studies prepared by qualified professionals and in accordance with the OCP are generally required of a property owner applying for a DP to work within environmentally sensitive and/or hazardous DP areas in Langford. Council may wish to request that an “Edge Planning Assessment and Buffer Plan” prepared by a registered Agrologist, Landscape Architect or Registered Professional Biologist is provided by a property owner applying for an Agricultural DP. The report should address and provide recommendations with respect to:
• Appropriate screening, landscaping, fencing, location, spacing, size and quantity of proposed and existing trees and shrubs, and lists of tree and shrub species to be planted;
• Setback of buildings from agricultural land; and
• Development and design elements that will promote compatibility (e.g. comment proposed road and lot layout, setbacks, locations of public and private open space, stormwater management, etc).
Edge Planning Assessment and Buffer Plan will assist staff in reviewing Agricultural DP applications, providing qualified recommendations in the development permits, and ensuring the appropriate measures are taken to protect the agricultural land and ensure compatibility between farm and non-farm uses.
Council may wish to consider including the following guidelines for new single-family residential subdivisions adjacent to land in the ALR in order to mitigate conflict between new residential developments proposed adjacent to ALR lands. This may also provide an opportunity to increase awareness in the development community on designing residential subdivisions that promote land use compatibility between farm and non-farm uses. The guidelines would address the following elements with respect to designing residential subdivision:
• Design road access to direct traffic away from farming;
• Have larger lot sizes along the interface with farming to provide for greater separation;
• Provide screening and landscaping buffers to protect residents from agricultural activities and in accordance with the DP;
• Greater building setbacks along the agricultural edge; and
• Provide a drainage study prepared by a Professional Engineer to ensure runoff from the proposed subdivision is contained.
In the report prepared by C&F Land Resource Consultants, it states that “Historically, the (ALC) has considered any exclusion of land from the ALR very seriously, and is reluctant to exclude land without a corresponding and significant net benefit to agriculture to offset the loss of ALR Lands.” Council has the opportunity to require a contributing benefit to agriculture at time of rezoning, and requires a contribution to the Agricultural Land Acquisition Fund at rezoning.
Council may wish to consider requesting the following contribution from developers as a condition of rezoning:
Dedicate 40% of their land, or an amount determined by Council, at the time of rezoning and that these lands will comprise the highest agricultural and environmental values on the property.
Other actions outlined in the strategy that would require amendments to policies and bylaws that Council may wish to undertake in effort to promote and support agricultural activities and food security in the community are:
• Amending Langford’s Landscape Policy, Bylaw 1201. Design Guidelines and Bylaw 500. Subdivision and Development Services Bylaw to require 10% of landscaping in private developments, parks and local streets to be edible species where appropriate;
• Amend the Landscape Policy to add the requirement that the developer provide a landscape security deposit in the amount of 100% of the estimated cost of the hard and soft landscaping and screening to be completed in the buffer area (designated DPA/edge planning area);
• Amending Bylaw 1201. DP Guidelines to require new mixed-use and residential developments with density of 100 units per hectare or greater and where residents do not have access to private yards to provide a community garden that is minimum size of 300 m• (3229 ft•);
• Amend all commercial and institutional zones to permit farmers markets; • Allow community gardens in all zones;
Establishing a Langford Agricultural Strategy should not represent an increased cost burden to the City.