Alanah Fuduric and her five-month-old daughter Charlie, and Alanah’s mom Cathy Fichter on the site where they were hoping to place a modular home for Cathy and her husband to live close to the rest of the family. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Alanah Fuduric and her five-month-old daughter Charlie, and Alanah’s mom Cathy Fichter on the site where they were hoping to place a modular home for Cathy and her husband to live close to the rest of the family. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Fraser Valley family in limbo as ALR rule changes mean no second home for grandparents

The family is one of dozens facing changed regulations on farmland housing

A three-generation Langley family was blindsided by a change in rules that has left them in one rather cramped home on a newly-purchased property.

“It’s a big home, but it’s not meant to have 10 people in it,” said Cathy Fichter.

Cathy and her husband Brian Fichter are retirees, and after Brian was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last year, they hoped to downsize from their three-level home.

Meanwhile, their daughter Alanah Fuduric, her husband Ryan, and their six children were looking for somewhere bigger than a townhome.

The extended family decided the best option was to pool their money to buy a farm property in South Langley. The Fuduric children would each have their own room, and the Fichters would be just across the garden in a newly-bought modular home.

After finding what they thought was the perfect home last fall, the family closed on the property on Feb. 26 this year. They didn’t realize that their time had just run out to add a modular home to the lot under Bill 52’s changes to Agricultural Commission rules.

“We were four days short of the Feb. 22 [deadline],” said Cathy.

The Fichter and Fuduric family weren’t the only ones caught off guard. So was the Township of Langley, according to Ramin Seifi, the general manager of engineering and community development, who said there was a lack of advance warning from the province.

Before Bill 52, the Township could issue permits for second dwellings based on a number of set criteria – if a farm had so many horses, so many dairy cattle, so many pigs, it could automatically qualify for a second dwelling, based on the idea that the farm would need more people.

“As it stands… we are no longer able to issue anything, because the Land Commission has to approve each and every one,” Seifi said.

And Cathy and Brian are far from the only people to be caught in a similar bind.

“We have heard from dozens of people,” Seifi said.

Most of the attention on Bill 52 has been focused on the size of homes permitted – but an amendment also limited the number of homes on agricultural land to one, and only one, unless the ALC grants an exemption.

The Fichter-Fuduric family has filed for an exemption, but have now waited almost three months for an answer, after being told it would be 60 business days for a decision.

“This is day 63, of the business days,” Cathy said.

The Fichters had everything ready – they had already purchased a new modular home, arranged permits for well and septic systems, and even for transportation. Now the modular home is simply sitting on a lot in South Brookswood waiting to be picked up.

If they had known about the deadline, the family says they could have accelerated their timeline, closed on the property a bit earlier, and by now, everything would be finished.

Instead, they’re in limbo.

Brian and Cathy are still sharing a home with their daughter, son-in-law, and six grandkids aged five months to 14 years old, a situation they had hoped would be very temporary.

“We’ve got lots of room,” Brian said sarcastically. “It’s a 12-by-12 [foot] bedroom.”

The room is intended to be the room of the youngest member of the family, five-month-old Charlie.

They aren’t sure what they will do if they can’t add a modular home to their property.

“We really don’t have much choice,” said Alanah. “We can’t afford to move back into what we used to have.”

She and Ryan are feeling responsible, after a plan that they thought would allow them to keep her parents close by but independent for as long as possible.

“My husband and I feel really guilty,” Alanah said. “It’s like this big dark cloud that looms over both of us.”

Asked about the changes, a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture acknowledged that in the past, secondary dwelling such as modular homes and carriage houses were allowed, even if not necessary for farming, and that local governments could make the decisions about allowing those homes.

“Moving forward, the new process will have the ALC, who have the technical expertise on farming, making decisions together with local governments,” the statement said.

People who want to build more homes on farmland to support their farming operations can still do so with support of the ALC, the statement said.

“With a growing population, climate change and ongoing land-use pressures, it has never been more important to ensure that the tiny percentage of land in B.C. that is best suited for agriculture is available and affordable for farmers and ranchers to produce the food that British Columbians need,” said the statement.

Alanah, who is planning to bring in horses, cattle, and possibly goats to the family’s five-acre property, hopes the ALC will consider her parents as farm hands and allow the second home.

Until her five-month-old daughter Charlie is school-aged, she’s going to need the extra help, Alanah said.

Agricultural Land ReserveAgricultureBC politicsFarmingLangley

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

Just Posted

Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon was sworn in as minister of minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation by B.C. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin and Premier John Horgan during a virtual ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. (Province of BC/YouTube screen shot)
Delta North MLA named minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation

Ravi Kahlon was sworn in by Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin during a virtual ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 26

The City of Delta is receiving $77,250 from Natural Resources Canada’s Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program for the installation of 20 electric vehicle charging stations at public facilities in the community, like this one outside the new North Delta Centre for the Arts. (James Smith photo)
Delta to receive $77K for more electric vehicle charging stations

The federal funding will help expand Delta’s network of public charging stations by 20 in 2021

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Brenda Locke trying to breathe life into Surrey’s defunct Public Safety Committee

Surrey councillor’s motion will be up for debate at a future council meeting

Steve ‘Elvis’ Elliott performs for residents of Amica White Rock. Exercise-to-music programs that led to a threat of city fines due to a noise complaint are to resume next week. (Contributed file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Amica White Rock

Peace Portal Seniors Village outbreak declared over

Wickson Pier in Crescent Beach is closed to the public, as work to replace and repair piles continues. (Susan Richards de Wit photo)
PHOTOS: Repairs to Crescent Beach pier complete

$180,000 Wickson Pier project included pile replacement, says City of Surrey parks manager

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

A new ‘soft reporting’ room is opening inside the Ann Davis Transition Society offices on Dec. 1, 2020 which is thought to be the first of its kind in B.C. (Ann Davis Transitional Society/ Facebook)
New ‘trauma-informed’ reporting room opening next week in Chilliwack

It’s a space for reporting domestic violence, sexual assault, or gender-based violence to police

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

The online poster for Joel Goddard, who left his Willoughby home Nov. 10, 2020, has been updated by his family and friends who received word that he’s been found.
Langley man missing since Nov. 10 found alive and safe in Abbotsford

Family of the Willoughby area man had been searching for days. Police find him at Abbotsford Airport

Most Read