A hand-painted roadside sign points to a farmstand. The District of Sooke’s proposed business bylaw is “confusing and ambiguous” when it comes to farmstands, according to a local farmer. (Lauren Krohn - Metro Creative)

A hand-painted roadside sign points to a farmstand. The District of Sooke’s proposed business bylaw is “confusing and ambiguous” when it comes to farmstands, according to a local farmer. (Lauren Krohn - Metro Creative)

Farmstand operator scrutinizes Sooke’s proposed business licence bylaw

Bylaw makes it difficult for local farmers to compete with businesses outside Sooke

According to a farmer, the District of Sooke’s proposed business bylaw is “confusing and ambiguous” when it comes to farmstands.

Ellen Lewers, who’s operated Mrs. Lewers’s Farmhouse for 36 years, said the new bylaw would make it difficult for local farms to compete against businesses outside Sooke.

Farmstands are exempt from paying a business licence fee as long as they sell products such as vegetables, fruit and meat. The new bylaw says farmers will need a business licence if they sell baked, canned, altered natural food products, artwork or handcrafted items.

ALSO READ: Saanich looks at relaxing farm stand ban

“Farmers are already up against the wall. Where is the support for local agriculture?” asked Lewers, who sells baked goods and home-canning items at her farmstand. “I’m a little concerned because I am the only farmstand in the District of Sooke.”

The revamp of the business licence bylaw is aimed at modernizing the document.

The original bylaw was first adopted in 2007, introducing the concept of business licensing to Sooke and outlining the process for issuing first-time licences. According to a municipal staff report, after 14 years and three amendment bylaws, Sooke’s business landscape has shifted to the point where a new bylaw is necessary.

A draft of the new bylaw includes farmstands, cannabis stores and mobile food vendors for the first time.

Councillors Al Beddows and Tony St-Pierre were concerned with the impact on local farmers.

“I’m at a bit of a loss what we’re trying to achieve here,” Beddows said.

St-Pierre said he worried another bureaucracy level was unnecessarily added since the province allows farmstands on ALR land. Any processed goods and sales creations must go through other levels of government, such as Island Health.

“Ideally, we need a level playing field for our farmers that comes in alignment with the province,” St-Pierre said.

District staff will take another look at the farmstand regulations and report back to council. The third reading of the bylaw, the last step before adoption, is expected at the April 12 council meeting.

READ: Greater Victoria students help bring small-scale urban farming to the community



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BylawsFarmingSooke council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Smoke is visible from the Trans-Canada Highway, April 16 around 12:15 p.m. (Black Press Media photo)
UPDATED: Saanich fire crews truck in water as hog fuel fire smoulders

Multiple fire departments respond to area of Burnside West and Prospect Lake roads

A GoFundMe has been launched in memory of an eight-year-old boy who drowned at a Hotel Zed pool in Victoria on March 24. (Jane Andema/GoFundMe)
GoFundMe started in memory of 8-year-old boy who died at Hotel Zed pool

Child drowned after wandering off to the pool alone

This image shows northbound traffic on Highway 17 looking to turn west onto Keating Cross Road (far right top corner), crossing the southbound lane on Highway 17. A new flyover overpass promises to ease delays and improve safety, but the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce is calling for revisions in joining other critics. (Screencap/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce calls for revisions to Central Saanich flyover overpass

Chamber deems current proposal necessary but insufficient in calling for full movement interchange

The Capital Regional Hospital District has approved awarding a tender to QM Environmental for the demolition and hazardous materials disposal of the Oak Bay Lodge. (Black Press Media File)
Winning bidder approved for Oak Bay Lodge demolition

Capital Regional Hospital District board approves $4.266 million budget for project

Rendering of the floating market space that is part of one of the two proposals for the Turkey Head and Oak Bay Marina properties. (Courtesy District of Oak Bay)
Oak Bay Marina questionnaire nets hundreds of responses

Mayor Kevin Murdoch impressed by the quality, quantity of input on two proposals

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Lookout Lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $82M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

The Nanaimo Clippers’ game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs slated for Thursday, April 15, has been postponed due to a “potential positive COVID-19 test result,” says the BCHL. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Clippers COVID-19 test negative, team can practise and play

Junior A hockey team had suspended activities the day before out of ‘abundance of caution’

Paper Excellence took over Catalyst Paper operations in B.C. in 2018. (Paper Excellence photo)
The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A almost hitting school bus

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

Eight-year-old Piper and her family were raising money to help Guinevere, the bearded dragon, get a gynecological surgery. Sadly, the reptile didn’t survive the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Lizard fails to survive surgery, GoFundMe dollars help Langley family offset medical bills

Guinevere, a pet bearded dragon, underwent an ovariectomy on Tuesday

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier John Horgan booked to get AstraZeneca shot Friday

‘Let’s show all British Columbians that the best vaccine is the one that’s available to you now,’ he said

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
P.1 variant likely highest in B.C. due to more testing for it: Dr. Henry

Overall, just under 60% of new daily cases in the province involve variants

Most Read