North Saanich Municipal Hall. The District released its annual report last week. (Peninsula News Review)

Pig shelter at Sandown Agricultural Lands comes down

North Saanich warned centre of stop-work order and possible fine

The District of North Saanich achieved what the big bad wolf in the fairytale failed to do – bring down a pig shelter.

The public heard Monday that the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture had taken down a hoop house sheltering pigs owned by Fickle Fig Farm Market last week. A hoop house is made by covering plastic or metal hoops with plastic sheeting.

According to staff, the structure came down by “sundown on the deadline day,” April 7.

The move came after the municipality sent a letter dated March 17 telling the centre that it might impose a stop work order and possibly issue a fine if staff did not receive a building permit by April 7. The centre informed the municipality on April 6 that it would take down the structure.

Brian Green, director of planning community and services, said last month the municipality must receive a building permit for the building the subtenant of the centre had erected. “The provincial building code is pretty clear,” he said. “Any building over 10 square metres requires a building permit.”

Jen Rashleigh, director of partner and community engagement for Circular Farm and Food: Vancouver Island, said in a letter last month that bringing hoop houses up to building code standards put them “out of the realm of economic possibility” for growers in asking staff to “look further into the regulatory nuances” before determining the compliance of the hoop house.

RELATED: North Saanich insists on permit for pig shelter on Sandown lands

She said in the letter that the structure sits on land in the Agricultural Land Reserve and “as such, multiple regulations are relevant.”

Green’s response to Rashleigh’s letter repeated the need for a building permit, adding that staff would have informed the centre if the structure did not require a building permit.

“A significant amount of staff time has been spent explaining what needs to be submitted and it is therefore disappointing that rather than trying to work with staff to address these bylaw compliance issues in a proactive and partnership approach, and prior to any construction taking place, that there is a reluctance and questioning of the need to comply with the (provincial building code) and the (municipality building bylaw), that is there to ensure minimum safety requirements.”

The dispute comes just months after North Saanich chose Circular Farm as the long-term operator of the Sandown Agricultural Lands following an extensive selection process that lasted years.

The agreement sees Circular Farm lease the former race track site from the municipality for 10 years with the municipality supplying funding for the first three years, providing $135,000 in 2020, followed by $125,000 each for 2021 and 2022.

Green’s letter reminded the centre of that agreement, pointing to language requiring compliance with all bylaws and obtaining all necessary permits. This said, council did not send an explicit political message after Coun. Jack McClintock withdrew his notice of motion that called staff to meet with SCRA to emphasize the importance of compliance and establish a deadline for submission of a building permit application.

The Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture broadly advertises itself as an agricultural community centre featuring multiple uses and partners from the commercial, academic and non-profit sectors.


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Saanich Peninsula

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