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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.

Update (April 23, 2018): In light of the Provincial initiative to “revitalize the Agricultural Land Reserve and Agricultural Land Commission”, the City has temporarily ‘paused’ AgRefresh. Given the overlap of key topics under review, it is important to ensure that AgRefresh is coordinated with any resulting provincial legislative and/or regulatory changes


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 Strategy.

Why AgRefresh?

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.    

Guiding Principles

The following guiding principles were created to guide the AgRefresh project:

  1. Use an understandable and transparent process inclusive of the City’s agricultural community and citizens.
  2. Ensure Abbotsford is surrounded and sustained by a thriving and diverse agricultural sector in the future.
  3. Clarify and define the City’s role with respect to agriculture.
  4. Enhance agricultural integrity by preserving, protecting and sustaining agriculture and food within the context of broader City objectives.
  5. Develop clear and concise bylaws and policies that are practical, workable and consistent.

AgRefresh Process

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.

Ag Lands Review process

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.

Project Information

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

Stage 2 - New Directions

Stage 3 - Prepare/Adopt New Policy

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Get Involved

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, preparing draft policies and regulations that build on the Stage 2 New Directions Report. 

While there has been significant progress and discussion on more specific policies and regulations for each AgRefresh topic, the City is closely monitoring the recent Provincial initiative to “revitalize the ALR and ALC”. Given the notable overlap of topics and issues being discussed through AgRefresh and this Provincial review, the City has decided to temporarily ‘pause’ the AgRefresh planning process, pending completion of the Provincial ALR/ALC initiative. Understanding the results of this review will allow the City to most effectively coordinate the completion of AgRefresh and provide appropriate recommendations to Council. The AgRefresh process is expected to resume in early 2019. More information on the decision to “pause” AgRefresh is available in the April 2018 staff report.​

A range of community and stakeholder engagement initiatives were held from November 2017 to January 2018, to gain community feedback on a range of important agricultural land use topics.

Feedback received through four open houses (November 27-30, 2017 - view the display boards), an online questionnaire, as well as meetings and workshops with industry stakeholders, City Committees, and government agencies will support the preparation of draft policies and regulations in next steps.

Winter 2017-18 AgRefresh Engagement Results were received by Committee of the Whole on February 26, 2018 (Results Summary Document and Appendices).

Stay tuned for project updates and information on opportunities to get involved! You can also subscribe to receive project email updates here.

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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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