Policies & Regulations

Relevant Bylaws

Official Community Plan

Saanich’s Official Community Plan (OCP) promotes many community values:

  • Protection of agricultural land for current and future generations.
  • Access to safe and nutritious food supply at a reasonable cost.
  • Opportunities for food production in both rural and urban areas

In general, the OCP’s agriculture and food security polices support initiatives to:

  • Ensure a healthy, sustainable and stable food supply within the region
  • Protect the agricultural land reserve
  • Develop appropriate regulations and guidelines for future rural and urban farming
  • Encourage innovative farming and local marketing
  • Improve soil capabilities
  • Encourage environmentally sound agricultural practices

Water Utility Bylaw (Agriculture rates)

We reduced agriculture rates in 2000 through Water Utility Bylaw 8124 [PDF - 180 KB] for agricultural water service connection and water service connection to land that is classified as farm under the “Assessment Act”.

Zoning Bylaw

The A-1 and A-4 Rural Zones cover most of the parcels in Rural Saanich and include agricultural use and produce sales of items produced on the property in the list of permitted uses. Over the years a few rural zones that address special agricultural land use have been created. These zones include the A-3 Farm Market Zone and the A-2 Rural Zone which permits two dwellings on one parcel. The C-18 Rural Commercial Zone was created to recognize the activities required for the sale and distribution of local agricultural products to the community. The zoning bylaw permits food processing in the M-5 Zone but not Rural Zones. Food processing and warehousing use is a consideration that affects local food supply and distribution. Food processing and warehousing is permitted within the M-5 Industrial Zones. Warehousing use is also permitted in most Industrial Zones and some Commercial Zones.

Zoning Bylaw Definitions

Agricultural

"means a use providing for the production, keeping, or maintenance of plants and animals, including, but not limited to: forages and sod crops, grains and seed crops, dairy animals and dairy products, poultry and poultry products, livestock including beef cattle, sheep, swine, horses, ponies, mules, or goats, or any mutations or hybrids thereof, including the breeding, boarding, and grazing of any or all of such animals, and the operation of a riding stable, bees and apiary products, fur animals, trees and forest products, fruits of all kinds, vegetables, nursery, floral, ornamental, and greenhouse products; or land devoted to a soil conservation or forestry management program; includes the storage, repair, and use of machinery and equipment used in conjunction with the agricultural activity carried thereon; excludes feedlots, manufacturing, and livestock processing."

Food Processing

"means the commercial use of a building or structure where food is processed or otherwise prepared for human consumption but is not directly retailed from, or consumed on the premises or lot." Not permitted in rural zones, see M-5 zone.

Farm Market

"means a use of land, buildings, or structures for the retail sale of fruit, vegetables, flowers, plants, and the like, horticultural products, the retail sale of milk, cheese, and other processed dairy products, the retail sale of eggs, chickens, turkeys, geese, and other unprocessed poultry products, the retail sale of gardening supplies, the retail sale of fresh seafood, and the retail sale of bakery products; excludes the sale of non-dairy processed foodstuffs and the sale of farm machinery, implements, tools, and durable goods of every kind other than gardening supplies."

Accessory Produce Sales

"means a use involving the retail sale of agricultural products which are produced on the same lot."

Demonstration Farm

"means land set aside for producers, government, private industry, or private landowners that allows farmers, researchers, and educators to teach and practice farming."

Note:  Please see Zoning Bylaw 8200 for detailed regulations.

Animals Bylaw

The Animals Bylaw 8556 [PDF - 3 MB] regulates the keeping of all animals, including farm animals, poultry, hens, and bees, in rural and urban Saanich. The regulations for keeping animals or bees for the production of food or fiber in urban and rural Saanich include restrictions based on the size of a parcel and the setbacks to the property line.

Animal Bylaw Definitions

Farm Animal

"means any domesticated animal normally raised for food, milk or as a beast of burden and without limiting the generality of the foregoing includes: cattle, horses, swine, sheep, goats, mules, donkeys, asses and oxen; but does not include poultry."

Chicken

"means a domesticated fowl that is kept for egg or meat production or as a pet, but does not include a turkey, goose, duck, artificially reared grouse, partridge, quail, pheasant or ptarmigan."

Poultry

"means any bird normally raised for food or egg production, but does not include bantams and without limiting the generality of the foregoing includes: chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, artificially reared grouse, partridge, quail, pheasant or ptarmigan."

Hens

"means a domesticated female chicken."

Allowed on Rural Zoned Properties:

  • Bee hives at a distance of at least 6.05m (20 ft) from any property line.
  • Farm animals on parcels greater than 0.2 ha (0.5 acre).
  • Ten poultry on parcels greater than 1,114.9 m² (12,000 sq ft).
  • Thirty poultry on lots greater than 1,858 m² (20,000 sq ft).
  • No number limit for poultry on property larger than 0.4 ha (43,056 sq ft). 

Allowed on Residential Zoned Properties:

  • No more than 2 farm animals on single family residential lots greater than 0.65 ha (1.6 acres).
  • A total of 5 hens on single family residential lots larger than 557m² (6,000 sq ft).
  • No more than 10 poultry on lots greater than 1,114.9 m² (12,000 sq ft).
  • No more than 4 bee hives on single family residential lots greater than 465m² (5,005 sq ft) at a distance of at least 6.05 m (20 ft) from any property line. 
  • Note: Please see the Animals Bylaw 8556 [PDF - 3 MB] for specific regulations on animals and insects.

Provincial Legislation

The Ministry of Agriculture has information on provincial acts and regulations for agriculture and food safety.

Examples of Provincial Acts:

Farm Protection

Agricultural Land Reserve

Between 1974 and 1976 the Province of BC established a special land use zone called the "Agricultural Land Reserve" to protect BC's supply of agricultural land.  Agriculture is recognized as the priority use in the Agricultural Land Reserve and non-agricultural uses are controlled by a set of policies and regulations outlined in the Agricultural Land Reserve Act.

The Farm Protection (Right to Farm) Act

The Right to Farm Act ensures that farmers can use "normal farm practices" within the Agricultural Land Reserve. It protects them from nuisance lawsuits, nuisance bylaws and prohibitive injunctions. 

Animals

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the BC Ministry of Health through the BC Food Safety Act and the Meat Inspection Regulations regulate the slaughtering and processing of animals for human consumption.

Under the legislation, all animals killed for human consumption in B.C. must be slaughtered in a provincial or federally licensed facility, in the presence of a certified meat inspector. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency provides inspection services on contract to the Province. 

There are seven licensed abattoirs operating on southern Vancouver Island. Six small scale abattoirs are north of the Malahat and one is in Metchosin. They have limited capacity. The mainland has most large-volume slaughterhouses.

Vegetable and Fruit Processing

The Canada Agricultural Products Act and the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture through the Agricultural Produce Grading Act regulates fruit and vegetable processing.

The Ministry of Agriculture prepared a Fact Sheet [PDF - 67 KB] overview of the B.C. field vegetable industry.

Food Distribution & Sales

Fresh Vegetables 

Fresh (non-storage) field vegetables are unregulated, with the exception of iceberg and fancy lettuces produced on Vancouver Island. Farmers can sell product:

  • through brokers or direct to wholesalers and retailers
  • through direct market outlets such as roadside stands and farmer’s markets
  • or where allowed by Municipal Zoning, through on-farm sales

A farmer may also wish to combine the on-farm sales with numerous value-added sales and agri-tourism concepts where permitted. See Zoning Bylaw 8200 and agricultural land use regulations.

Get details on direct farm marketing through the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture.

See the following example for preparing a direct farm marketing plan [PDF - 381 KB].

Vegetable Storage & Processing

The BC Vegetable Marketing Commission administers the Natural Products Marketing (BC) Act that regulates high volume storage vegetable crops within Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands. Producers of high volume regulated crops must meet a quota, register each year and provide their production intentions with the Vegetable Marketing Commission. Regulated crops include greenhouse vegetable crops, processing vegetable crops and storage crops.

Farm Markets

Currently, the Zoning Bylaw only permits Farm Markets in the A3 Rural Zone (Farm Market) [PDF - 14.8 MB].

The responsibility for the enforcement of legislation governing farmer's markets (the Food Premises Regulation) is with local health authorities (Vancouver Island Health Authority Food Security Initiatives). It is their responsibility to interpret and apply the provisions of the regulation to ensure the protection of the food supply. Prospective farm marketers should follow the Provincial Guidelines for Sale of Foods at Temporary Food Markets [PDF - 746 KB].

BC Farm Market Association.