Women’s recovery centre in B.C. faces eviction as farm rules enforced

Women’s recovery centre in B.C. faces eviction as farm rules enforced

VICTORIA — A farm home in the Fraser Valley that provides addiction treatment and life-skills recovery help for women has received an eviction notice after the pastoral property along the Canada-U.S. border was deemed not to have met regulations governing the use of British Columbia’s agricultural land.

Angie Appenheimer, a regional director at the Abbotsford Women’s Centre, said Tuesday she’s started looking for a new facility to house nine women who live at the 1.2 hectare property for up to a year.

The centre appealed the eviction notice decision last summer, suggesting it could expand its vegetable gardens to become more like a farm, but the appeal was denied and the eviction is due June 4, 2021, she said.

“We have to look for another location because that’s what we have to do,” Appenheimer said. “We have to continue to be looking for a place for these women to continue their program.”

The centre has been operating since 2003, offering faith-based services to the women battling addiction, she said. It has an 80 per cent success rate, said Appenheimer.

A site inspection last year by officials from B.C.’s independent Agricultural Land Commission started an examination process that resulted in the two-year eviction notice, she said. Appenheimer described the property as rolling, rocky and treed, with what appears to be little potential for agriculture.

The Agricultural Land Commission is an independent tribunal responsible for administering a law that aims to preserve agricultural land and encourage farming.

The land commission, in its June 4, 2019, ruling, says it considered the use of the women’s centre as a recovery facility, but decided it is not a farm and its priority is to ensure farmland is used for agriculture.

“The panel finds that the continued use of the principal residence, craft room and fitness room for the non-farm purposes does not provide a benefit to agriculture, and therefore fails to meet the mandate of the commission under section 6 of the Agricultural Land Commission Act,” the decision states.

The eviction of the women’s centre has become part of the Opposition Liberals campaign on behalf of frustrated farmers to repeal NDP government legislation that they say places farmland ahead of the people who work on the land.

About 100 B.C. farmers along with their supporters were at the B.C. legislature Monday calling on the New Democrat government to repeal Bill 52, which they say is splitting up families because the land commission consistently denies applications from farmers who want to build homes for their children on the farms.

The New Democrats passed the legislation partly in response to prevent farm property owners from building so-called monster-sized mansions on farmland or using the property to dump gravel.

Appenheimer said she couldn’t comment directly on the land commission’s decision to deny the appeal by the women’s centre.

“When we were denied the appeal, I was disappointed, but not surprised, I guess, because at the end of the day, they were sticking to their mandate,” she said. “We were realizing they have a mandate, but hoping they would see beyond the mandate to maybe being able to give back a little piece of ALR land for the purpose of reclaiming peoples’ lives.”

Appenheimer said perhaps in future the ALR will consider cases like the women’s centre to relax its farm-use mandate.

Opposition Liberals agriculture critic Ian Paton said the eviction notice doesn’t make sense.

“There’s a great big house on this hill in south Abbotsford right near the border that’s been there for several years as a kind of a safe house for battered women in the Abbotsford area, and the land commission came along recently and told them to shut down within two years because you can’t be doing that on agricultural land,” he said.

Paton said the eviction notice is one of the increasing numbers of land-use rejections farmers and others are facing, including denials for Halloween festivals, hay rides and roadside vegetable sales.

“Somebody has to take a look at a lot of these decisions made by the land commission,” he said.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said she does not interfere in the decisions of the land commission. She added that the government is creating 1,500 additional women’s shelter spaces.

“We’re trying to make sure the Agricultural Land Reserve is strong and it’s there for future food security,” Popham said. “We also know there needs to be some flexibility.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2019.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Women Recovery Centre

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Paul Harris, owner of Tribe restaurant downtown, said a lot of the blame for the latest restrictions that will close outdoor patios on Sunday can be blamed on those not obeying health regulations and the government for failing to enforce the rules.
Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Restaurant owners frustrated by patio shutdowns

Outdoor patios must stop serving by midnight Sunday to stem rising COVID infections

The City of Red Deer said Wednesday that some outdoor activity rentals will be available starting Monday for households only. (Advocate File Photo)
City of Red Deer outlines activities available as new provincial COVID-19 restrictions set in

There will be limited recreation activities available across the City of Red… Continue reading

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 2,271 new COVID-19 cases, Red Deer cases rise slightly

Across Alberta, there are 666 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 146 in the ICU

‘Love, Oran’ is a documentary feature made by Red Deer-raised filmmaker Colin Scheyen. It’s about hidden letters, found in a Woodlea home after 70 years, revealing a family secret. (Screenshot by Advocate staff).
Hidden letters reveal secrets of Red Deer family in a new documentary film

‘Love, Oran,’ by filmmaker Colin Scheyen is showing at Edmonton’s NorthwestFest

Red Deer Rebels’ three graduating players, Josh Tarzwell (left), Chris Douglas (middle) and Ethan Anders (right) will all move on to new opportunities next season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
‘It was a rollercoaster’: Rebels’ graduating players look back on wild season

The nerves. Even three-and-a-half-years later, Josh Tarzwell still remembers the nervousness he… Continue reading

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson, left, directs her teammates, lead Briane Meilleur, right, and second Shannon Birchard, against Estonia at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, May 5, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy, left, talks with midfielder Lassi Lappalainen during the second half of an MLS soccer match against Columbus Crew, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The game ended in a 0-0 tie. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Damian Warner, of Canada bronze, smiles during the medal ceremony for the decathlon at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Nariman El-Mofty
Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gestures rounding third base after hitting his third home run against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 27, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Bedard, Wright lead Canadians into gold-medal game at U18 championship

Bedard, Wright lead Canadians into gold-medal game at U18 championship

Canada players are seen prior to the match against Costa Rica as part of the 2021 CONCACAF Futsal Championship in Guatemala City, Guatemala in this Wednesday, May 5, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, CONCACAF, Straffon Images, Norvin Mendoza *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Canada loses to Costa Rica but advances at CONCACAF Futsal Championship

Canada loses to Costa Rica but advances at CONCACAF Futsal Championship

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver addresses the audience at the Yukon Government swearing in ceremony, in the Yukon Government Legislature foyer, in Whitehorse, Monday, May 3, 2021. The Yukon government says travelers who can prove they've been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will no longer be required to self-isolate when they enter the territory beginning May 25. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Kelly
Yukon to lift requirement of 14-day self-isolation for arriving travellers on May 25

Yukon to lift requirement of 14-day self-isolation for arriving travellers on May 25

Most Read