July 21, 2016 - 1:00 PM
KELOWNA - Construction and landscaping companies operating illegally on agricultural land are one of the primary targets of Kelowna bylaw enforcement efforts, but land owners renting out their farms for boat, trailers and RV storage are another constant source of complaints to the city, rural planning manager Todd Cashin says.
“It’s definitely become an issue,” Cashin says. “When it starts to jump to the commercial level, where it competes with businesses on commercial and industrial land, it becomes something we are concerned about.”
Non-farm use of agricultural land is controlled by the Agricultural Land Commission, but Cashin says many people will ignore the need to go through the process of submitting an application.
“Most of these will start out small, with maybe a couple of trailers and a boat, but pretty soon they’ve got six or seven boats and half a dozen RVs,” he says.
They find a ready-made market in boat and trailer owners from out of town and out of province who don’t want to have to haul them back and forth.
“Pretty soon the income from that is better than what they’re getting from the farm and the farming starts to go by the wayside,” Cashin adds.
Making it complicated is separating commercial-level operators from those who are merely storing a few things for family and friends.
“There might be a couple of sea cans, a couple of boats, buddy has a trailer he needs a place for and so do dad and sister,” Cashin says. “That’s relatively common practice and nothing to get too excited about. But when it starts to look like an RV sales lot, we have a problem.”
One recent case was a farm out Glenmore Road found to be storing over 30 vehicles, boats and trailers on a specially prepared flat storage site.
Unlike many storage operations, which are well hidden in out-of-the-way orchards and farms, the operators made no attempt to hide their illegal operation.
“It was in plain view of Glenmore Road with a lot of people driving by. We were getting complaints. It was not a proper land use, so we had to act,” Cashin says.
Visits from bylaw officers actually seemed to do the trick, he adds, until he drove out there to see for himself.
“It was empty all right, but then we started to notice other farms in the area suddenly had five or six RVs or boats sitting there and we realized they had just spread them out to other farms,” Cashin adds.
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