It is estimated that 30% of Chilliwack's economic activity can be attributed to agriculture, and comprising 65% of the land base in the City, Chilliwack's agricultural lands are some of the most productive in the province.
The City of Chilliwack and the Chilliwack Agricultural Commission, a subsidiary of Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO), are committed to protecting, supporting and improving agriculture in our community through land use planning tools such as the Official Community Plan and the City's zoning bylaw, and through major economic development efforts undertaken by CEPCO to attract new agricultural businesses and to help the City's existing agricultural businesses grow, expand and diversify.
Agricultural Area Plan
The Chilliwack Agricultural Commission, CEPCO, City of Chilliwack, and the consulting team (together with agriculture stakeholder input and public feedback) are developing an Agricultural Area Plan (AAP) for the City of Chilliwack to provide policies and bylaws supportive of agriculture (to develop a shared vision of agriculture in the community, improve rural/urban interface, and integrate agriculture with other priorities in rural areas), and can also be a business development and marketing strategy for farmers (to support an updated economic strategy for agriculture that enhances agricultural opportunities in the community).
Development of an Agricultural Area Plan will help strengthen the City's approach to comprehensive, sustainable community planning by providing additional support for agricultural policies within the Official Community Plan and furthermore, assist by:
- providing direction towards agricultural land use planning, management and stewardship;
- creating an overall community vision for agriculture;
- increasing public awareness as to the economic value of the agriculture industry to the community;
- implementing a framework designed to assist with the long-term sustainability of the agricultural industry; and,
- building relationships with local industry stakeholders.
The Agricultural Area Plan will also provide the City of Chilliwack with the opportunity to address strategies that were outlined in the 2004 Chilliwack Agricultural Commission report: "Chilliwack Agricultural Sector Strategy Update".
The strategic focus of the Agricultural Area Plan is concentrated within the City of Chilliwack's boundaries; therefore, the primary benefit(s) will be for rural and urban residents of the community.
Phase I: Agricultural Stakeholder and Public Consultation (Current Stage)
Phase I will be the preparation of an industry profile of agriculture in the City of Chilliwack. The consultation will begin with a series of focus group meetings with the AAP Projects Committee, the City of Chilliwack, the Chilliwack Agricultural Commission, and agriculture stakeholder groups to extract the issues and ideas that will form the basis for further plan development.
Phase II: Issues and Options
The results of Phase I will be amalgamated into a listing of the major issues (i.e. rural-urban interface) affecting the agriculture industry and the community. A Public Open House will be held to discuss the major issues.
The Agricultural Area Plan will address the concerns and layout the framework for various policy and plan options and/or responses for the identified issues.
Phase III: Agricultural Area Plan
A draft Agricultural Area Plan will be prepared that outlines a series of policies and actions to enhance the long-term sustainability of Chilliwack's agriculture industry. The Plan will include a schedule and an implementation plan.
A consolidated version of the draft Plan will then be presented to the public via a second Public Open House before being formally presented to Council for approval (by Council Resolution).
This Agricultural Area Plan project is being funded in part by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C. through programs it delivers on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture.