AgRefresh - Studies and Projects
The City of Abbotsford has launched AgRefresh, a comprehensive 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 provide three primary deliverables: updated Official Community Plan (OCP) policy, updated Zoning Bylaw regulation, and a Bylaw Compliance Strategy.
Abbotsford is the largest municipality in BC with a total area of 389 km2 where approximately 75% of the land base is located within the ALR, making agriculture a significant part of the City’s economy and character. Abbotsford is one of the most intensively and diversely farmed areas in Canada, supporting a wide range of crop and livestock productions.
The agricultural industry is quickly changing and intensifying. Abbotsford farmers are looking to add value to their product to remain competitive by introducing on-farm processing, farm retail, commercial events, and agri-tourism opportunities. This value-added approach incorporates industrial and commercial activities in farming, blurring the lines between rural and urban land uses.
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 new OCP, adopted in June 2016, provides a high level vision, policies and guidelines to enhance and protect agricultural integrity. The BC Ministry of Agriculture also completed an Agricultural Land Use Inventory in 2012 of agricultural activities in Abbotsford. AgRefresh will build upon this work with a new framework for agricultural planning and compliance.
The following guiding principles were created to guide the AgRefresh project:
- Use an understandable and transparent process inclusive of the City’s agricultural community and citizens.
- Ensure Abbotsford is surrounded and sustained by a thriving and diverse agricultural sector in the future.
- Clarify and define the City’s role with respect to agriculture.
- Enhance agricultural integrity by preserving, protecting and sustaining agriculture and food within the context of broader City objectives.
- Develop clear and concise bylaws and policies that are practical, workable and consistent.
AgRefresh will be completed over the following three stages, which will include background research, policy development, and policy adoption. This is followed by ongoing implementation that will occur after the policy is adopted.
Each stage is organized around a list of tasks and key engagement activities, and completion of each stage will be finalized with a summary report presented to Council.
- Stage 1 | Background Research provides an introduction to the current state of agriculture in Abbotsford, initial engagement with community stakeholders, and identifies the trends, opportunities, challenges, and emerging themes to set the stage for New Directions in Stage 2.
- Stage 2 | New Directions will focus on preparing new directions, based on Stage 1 findings, that will refine the OCP policies and Zoning Bylaw regulations.
- Stage 3 | Adopt New Policy will focus on preparing the updated OCP policies, Zoning Bylaw regulations, and a Bylaw Compliance Strategy using the findings from Stage 1 and 2, including obtaining necessary approvals from external government agencies and adoption by Council.
- Ongoing | Implement New Policy will align updated OCP policies and Zoning Bylaw regulations with the ongoing Bylaw Compliance Strategy.
On March 14, 2016 City Council received an introduction to AgRefresh, endorsed the guiding principles, and directed staff to begin Stage 1 Background Research engagement (view Report No. PDS 031-2016). The following documents provide information about the project, and show project achievements.
Stage 1 - Background Research
- Report to Council: Report No. PDS 133-2016
- Report: Background Report and Appendices
- Presentation to Council: Background Research Report
Stage 2 - New Directions
- Report to Council: Report No. PDS 121-2017
- Report: AgRefresh Stage 2 New Directions Report and Appendices
- Presentation to Council: AgRefresh Stage 2 New Directions Report
- ALR Land in Abbotsford
- Rural Amenities
- Agriculture as an Economic Generator
- ALR Parcel Size and Area
- Agricultural Land Cover and Use
- Field Crops
- Livestock and Poultry
- Agricultural Land Use Inventory Summary
- Agricultural Trends
Stage 1 - Background Research
Stage 1 engagement involved introducing AgRefresh to the public, and exploring opportunities and challenges with industry stakeholders. Engagement was conducted in March and April 2016, and included a public open house with community residents (view display boards), and meetings and workshops with government agencies, industry stakeholders, and City committees (view the event presentation).
Through the Stage 1 engagement process, stakeholders provided valuable insight into the opportunities and challenges with agriculture in Abbotsford. Findings from this engagement are included in the Stage 1 Background Research Report, which was received by Council on October 3, 2016 (see Report No. PDS 133-2016).
Stage 2 - New Directions
Stage 2 provided a valuable opportunity to engage the community and agricultural industry stakeholders to identify key themes and discuss locally relevant agricultural land use topics that will help shape new directions and support the future of agriculture in Abbotsford.
Through a series of initiatives - online survey, workshop, open house (English and Punjabi display boards), meetings - the City received valuable feedback on a range of important AgRefresh topics. This feedback supported preparation of the New Directions Report, which sets a high level framework to develop more detailed policies and regulations in Stage 3. A summary of Stage 2 engagement and an overview of the New Directions are included in the Stage 2 New Directions Report, which was received by Council on July 31, 2017 (see Report No. PDS 121-2017).
Stage 3 - Prepare/Adopt New Policy
AgRefresh is now in Stage 3, working on more detailed policies and regulations that build on the Stage 2 New Directions Report.
Four AgRefresh open houses were hosted from November 27 to 30, 2017 to gain community feedback on more specific ‘ideas being explored’ for a range of important agricultural land use topics. View the display boards from the open houses for more information. Community feedback, in combination with meetings and workshops with industry stakeholders, City Committees, and government agencies will support the preparation of proposed policies and regulations in next steps.
Stay tuned for project updates and information on opportunities to get involved! You can also subscribe to receive project email updates here.
As the project moves forward, the webpage will be updated to reflect our progress, so please continue to check back.
For further information or if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us: