For more than 60 years, the Otter Co-op has offered local producers feed, seed and other necessary agricultural supplies. Its unavoidable loss due to a major transportation and infrastructure project will affect many local agricultural operations. Council and the community were hopeful to find a solution to accommodate this continued service.
In March 2022, Council approved the referral of a non-farm use application to the ALC that would see a new independent dealership location for the Otter Co-op feed and agricultural products at the Maple Meadows Equestrian Centre. Unfortunately, the Agricultural Land Commission’s (ALC) decision to deny the application for a farm supply retail use at the Maple Meadows Equestrian facility means that local agricultural producers will have reduced access to essential operational supplies.
“With current and ongoing supply-chain issues and now the reduced availability of local feed supplies, this gap in service will negatively affect the viability of agriculture in Pitt Meadows,” says Mayor Nicole MacDonald. “Permitting the sale of farm feed and supplies in an agricultural area makes sense. The solution proposed to the ALC would have been a way to keep the Otter Co-op in our community.”
The Commission’s rationale for denial are: conflicting traffic impacts, reduction of agricultural activity and that a feed supply store is better located in an urban area.
Pitt Meadows City Council strongly disagrees with the ALC’s rationale.
Selling of Operational Supplies
Agriculture is fundamentally a commercial enterprise and therefore selling operational supplies needed by producers is not a competing or conflicting commercial activity, as suggested by the ALC. Any additional traffic would be for agricultural producers seeking and/or delivering supplies.
Existing Structures Repurposed
The property already includes an equestrian facility that requires supplies of feed, hay and other agricultural goods that would be offered for sale to other agricultural operations. The feed supply store was intended to operate out of an existing riding arena and attached horse stalls would be converted into retail and storage areas. Re-purposing existing structures and parking areas would not reduce areas available for agricultural activities.
Reduced Local Access to Essential Farm Supplies
Agricultural producers need large volumes of materials. Producers will need to navigate busy urban roads which can be challenging for vehicles and trailers necessary to transport supplies. With fewer local suppliers, local agricultural producers will have reduced access to essential farm operational supplies. Farmers will now have to travel to other municipalities to obtain feed supplies and it will cost more to source necessary supplies.
The agricultural industry continues to evolve while regulations and the economics of the sector continue to impose increasingly thin margins for producers. “All levels of government must think creatively and be flexible in order to encourage sustainability and viability of agriculture,” says Mayor Nicole MacDonald. “Council firmly believes this proposal was a creative solution to supporting our local agricultural producers in Pitt Meadows and we are disappointed in the ALC’s decision.”
- Read the City’s letter of support for the Otter Co-op/Maple Meadows Equestrian Centre Application for Non-Farm Use to the ALC – April 1, 2022.
- Read the ALC application and decision (Search Application ID 64317) (PDF Version) - November 15, 2022.
- Read the City’s response to the ALC - December 1, 2022.