A large Kelowna family hopes to win approval for a 7,500-square-foot home on farmland.
Restrictions introduced earlier this year by the NDP government normally limit the size of new residences on properties within the Agricultural Land Reserve to about 5,400 square feet.
The upper limit is intended, the government says, to prevent construction of estate-style homes in farming areas by people with little real interest in agriculture.
However, exemptions to the specified limit are possible in the case of large families living together to work the land.
In their application to the Agricultural Land Commission, that’s the circumstance being cited by the Baring family, which owns farmland at 298 Cornish Rd. in Rutland.
“Our proposal is to do farming and to build a joint family residence for our three generations to reside together,” Balwinder Baring writes in a letter to the City of Kelowna.
“We purchased the farm as bare land two years ago and have worked very hard to plant 80% of the property with apples, nectarines and peaches,” Baring writes. “We were able to do this so quickly due to living/working together in a joint family.
“Our family moved to Canada in 1999 and since then, and even back home in India, we have lived in a joint family and did farming, so we hope to continue living the same lifestyle,” Baring writes.
“Currently we have 10 members in our family and we expect to grow as we are planning to have more children which means that we need a bigger space to accommodate us all,” Baring writes.
The family’s application for a non-adhering residential use for a single-family home with a floor area greater than 500 square metres (5,381 square feet) is now under review by city planners.
At some point, it will appear on a city council agenda. Councillors will decide whether to endorse or oppose the application before it is forwarded to the ALC.
About 11% of the 1,900 homes already on Kelowna farmland could be considered mega-mansions, with a residential footprint of more than 21,500 square feet.
The footprint includes such things as the dwelling’s size, garage, swimming pools, tennis courts, driveways and landscaping.
Between 2007 and 2014, almost one-third of the 94 homes built on Kelowna properties within the ALR had a residential footprint of more than 21,500 square feet.