Gatzke

One-third of the land at the Gatzke family's property in Lake Country is no longer being actively farmed, town staff say.

Part of a long-established Lake Country farm should be excluded from the Agricultural Land Reserve, town planners say.

Excluding a portion of the Gatzke family’s property from the ALR is the best way to deal with the proliferation of commercial and non-farm uses at the site, municipal staff will tell councillors next Tuesday.

“The desired outcome is that the property be used in a way that benefits the business as well as the larger community, while adhering to all applicable regulations,” staff write in a report to council.

Planners recommend councillors authorize the town to prepare an ALR exclusion application on the Gatzkes’ behalf for part of the property.

Under new rules passed by the NDP government, municipalities rather than individual farmers must submit such applications to the Agricultural Land Commission.

But the Gatzkes, who have owned the property since 1929, instead want the municipality to endorse their submission to the ALC for a more straightforward non-farm use permit, rather than an exclusion application.

Town staff say more than one-third of the Gatzkes’ property is no longer used for active farming, but instead is used for a variety of commercial purposes.

The Gatzkes run a farm market from May to September that includes a cafe and bakery. Other features of the property include a rental cabin, a campground, locations for wedding receptions and group events, and electric bike rentals.

The family says such enterprises are necessary to support ongoing farming activities.

“Alan understands agri-tourism, is an early adopter, listens to and tells stories of what works and what doesn’t, learning and growing in the off-season, while the orchard is asleep,” the Gatzke Orchard website states.

“Visiting other places, and hosting visiting farmers as well, watching how others do it, picking and choosing, gleaning what will work best, right here, on this farm, in this place, at this time, and looking ahead to the future,” the website says.