The City of Abbotsford is undertaking AgRefresh, a three stage planning process to review agricultural policies, bylaws, and regulations, and to establish a framework for ongoing bylaw compliance for land within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). AgRefresh will update Official Community Plan (OCP) policy and Zoning Bylaw regulation, and prepare a bylaw compliance approach for farming areas.
NEW: AgRefresh Stage 3 Report: Draft Policies and Regulations now available.
Abbotsford is geographically the largest municipality in BC with a total area of 389km2, and nearly 75% of the City in the ALR. As one of the most intensively and diversely farmed areas in Canada, local agriculture produces a wide range of crop and livestock commodities making farming a significant part of Abbotsford's economy and community identity.
The agriculture industry is quickly changing and intensifying. Abbotsford farmers are looking to add value to their products to remain competitive by incorporating activities such as on-farm processing, farm retail, commercial events, and agri-tourism experiences.
The City has demonstrated its commitment to agriculture by gaining greater insight and understanding of this sector. The 2011 Agriculture Strategy provided a vision for the health and growth of agriculture in Abbotsford, with a recommendation for the City to undertake a rural area plan, which AgRefresh aims at addressing in part. Also, the City’s recently updated OCP, provides a high level vision, policies and guidelines to enhance and protect agricultural integrity.
On March 14, 2016, Council endorsed the AgRefresh guiding principles and directed staff to begin a three stage planning process (view Report No. PDS 031-2016):
- Stage 1: Conduct background research
- Stage 2: Explore new policy directions
- Stage 3: Prepare policy and regulation for adoption (we are here)
The AgRefresh process is organized around a list of tasks and engagement activities, with the outcomes of each stage summarized in a report to council.
Progress and Reports
Stage 1 focused on understanding the current state of agriculture in Abbotsford. Community and industry engagement helped identify trends, opportunities, challenges, and key themes for further work in Stage 2.
Engagement conducted in early 2016 included a community open house, as well as meetings and workshops with government agencies, industry representatives, and City committees.
Stage 1 findings are summarized in the Background Research Report, received by Council October 3, 2016.
Stage 2 provided an important opportunity to engage with the agricultural community and industry stakeholders to identify key themes and discuss the agricultural land use topics most important and relevant to farming in Abbotsford.
Through a series of initiatives (online survey, workshop, open house, meetings), the City received feedback on a range of key AgRefresh topics. This supported preparation of the New Directions Report, setting a high level framework for the development of detailed policy and regulation in Stage 3.
The AgRefresh planning process is nearing completion! The AgRefresh Stage 3 Report was released in early October 2021, outlining draft policies, regulations, and recommendations for Abbotsford's farming areas.
Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the draft updates throughout October and early November! Next steps involve summarizing engagement feedback for Council and preparing formal bylaws for Council consideration.
Read the full Stage 3 Report or explore specific topics below:
- Report No. PDS 092-2021 AgRefresh Stage 3: Draft Policy and Regulation Report
- Report No. PDS 040-2020: AgRefresh Relaunch and City Feedback (April 2020)
- Report PDS 040-2018: Provincial ALR/ALC Review and AgRefresh (April 2018)
- Stage 3: 2017-2018 Winter Engagement Results (PDS Report, Summary, Appendices)
- Stage 3 Winter 2017-18 Open House Panels