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studies and projects

The City of Abbotsford is undertaking AgRefresh, a comprehensive 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).

Update (April 6, 2020): In light of Ministry of Agriculture progress on the Provincial initiative to “revitalize the Agricultural Land Reserve and Agricultural Land Commission”, the City has resumed a modified version of AgRefresh. Please see staff report PDS 040-2020 to learn more.



AgRefresh - Studies and Projects

About AgRefresh

The City of Abbotsford is undertaking 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 approach.

Why AgRefresh?

Abbotsford is geographically the largest municipality in BC with a total area of 389km2, and about 75% of the City within 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 agricultural industry is quickly changing and intensifying. Abbotsford farmers are looking to add value to their products to remain competitive by introducing 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.

A Three Stage Process

AgRefresh involves three stages, which include (1) conducting background research, (2) exploring new policy directions, and (3) preparing policy/ regulation for adoption. The process is organized around a list of tasks and key engagement activities, with outcomes of each stage summarized in a report to council.

Image of Agrefresh Process

Progress & Reports

Project Launch

On March 14, 2016, City Council received an introduction to AgRefresh, endorsed the guiding principals, and directed staff to begin the planning process (view Report No. PDS 031-2016). 

Stage 1 - Background Research (Complete)

Stage 1 focused on understanding the current state of agriculture in Abbotsford. Community and industry stakeholder 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, which was received by Council October 3, 2016.

Stage Resources

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Stage 2 - New Directions (Complete)

Stage 2 provided an important opportunity to engage with the agricultural community and industry stakeholders to identify key themes and discuss 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.

Stage 2 work is summarized in the New Directions Report, which was received by Council July 31, 2017.

Stage Resources

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Stage 3 - Prepare/ Adopt New Policy (in-progress)

AgRefresh is now in Stage 3, preparing draft policies and regulations that build on the Stage 2 New Directions.

Coordinating with the Provincial ALR/ALC Revitalization

While there has been significant progress and discussion on specific policies and regulations for each AgRefresh topic, the City is closely monitoring the on-going Provincial initiative to "revitalize the ALR and ALC".

Due the notable overlap of topics under review through AgRefresh and the Provincial "revitalization", AgRefresh was temporarily paused in April 2018 to ensure the City can effectively coordinate its work with the outcomes of the Provincial work.

On April 6, 2020, in light of Ministry of Agriculture progress on the ALR/ALC "revitalization" initiative, Council directed staff to resume a modified version of AgRefresh. Details regarding the relaunch are provided in the PDS 040-2020 staff report.

Stage Progress and Next Steps

A range of engagement initiatives were held between November 2017 and January 2018 to hear community feedback on a range of 'early ideas' for updating the City's agriculture policies and regulations.

Feedback received through open houses, an online questionnaire, as well as meetings/ workshops with industry stakeholders, City Committees, and government agencies is summarized in the Engagement Results Report, received by Council on February 26, 2018.

Next steps involve working with the engagement input, conducting supplemental research, and analyzing recent Provincial regulation changes to prepare draft recommendations. 

Stage Resources

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Contact Us

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:

Tel: 604-864-5510

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