After Township council unanimously rejected a rezoning application for an abattoir in south Langley, the owner of the farm submitted — and has been denied — a subsequent building permit for the same purpose.
In a recent letter to the applicant, the Township states it declined the permit for a poultry slaughterhouse at 995 224 St. on the basis that the proposed construction is for “an unlawful use.”
“An abattoir or on-farm processing use is not a permitted use of the lands in the Rural Zone RU-3,” the letter states.
“As you know, the owner’s application to re-zone the lands from the RU-3 Zone to Agricultural Processing Zone Ru-6 was rejected by council.”
Garrett Broatch had originally submitted an application to rezone 2.96 acres of a 39.5 acre property at 995 224 St. to facilitate an abattoir and several new barns. It was defeated by council at third reading on April 9, following an outcry from neighbours at a public hearing the month before.
Several nearby residents claimed the abattoir could potentially draw thousands of litres of water from the aquifer each week, and create a risk for water contamination.
Following council’s decision, on June 11, Mayor Jack Froese received a letter from the Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham, stating that the Township erred in its interpretation of its bylaws.
Because the Township is a regulated community, it must receive approval from the Minister of Agriculture for zoning bylaws that prohibit or restrict farming. Popham claims that a bylaw amendment made in 2015 that disallows abattoirs in RU-3 zones was never approved by the provincial government. She also said that under the Agricultural Land Commission Act (ALCA), local governments cannot prohibit certain farm uses unless they do so in a farming bylaw.
“While the Township of Langley may, being a local government regulated under s. 553 of the LGA (Local Government Act), adopt bylaws in accordance with s. 552 of the LGA (with the Minister’s approval), the Township has not, to my knowledge, exercised this authority with regard to poultry processing facilities in the ALR,” Popham wrote.
“I suggest that the Township of Langley review its bylaws to determine their consistency with both the ALCA and the requirement to obtain the Minister of Agriculture’s approval under the LGA, to ensure that building permits in relation to farm uses are not being denied based on inaccurate understandings of the types of farming activities that are permitted by owners of land in the ALR.”
The Township of Langley, however, disagrees with Popham’s interpretation, and outlined its stance in the letter to the applicant.
“The exclusion of meat processing plants and abattoirs from the RU-3 zone is done pursuant to the definition of ‘agricultural uses’ in the zoning bylaw, which received approval from the Minister of Agriculture in June 1999,” the Township wrote in the letter.
“The Township is therefore permitted to restrict a meat processing use under this section of its zoning bylaw, even if it’s designated as a ‘farm use’ under the Agricultural Land Commission Act.
“In these circumstances, the Township is not prepared to issue a building permit, as the proposed meat processing plant is not a permitted use of the lands.”