Lisa and Gary Moran, owners of Fantasy Farms in Chilliwack, stand inside several of their greenhouses which are being used for agritourism. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Fantasy Farms told to stop holding special events on farmland that go against agricultural rules

The Morans say it might spell the end of their seasonal events like Reapers Haunted Attractions

The owners of Fantasy Farms in Chilliwack say provincial rules might spell the end of their seasonal events like Reapers Haunted Attractions.

Lisa and Gary Moran grow pumpkins, and other crops at the Gibson Road farm, but have become known for agri-tourism events like Petey’s Pumpkin Patch/Country Christmas, Reapers, and a Garlic Festival, held in their ag buildings, as well as outdoors.

“We were told to cease and desist on Oct. 4,” said Gary Moran told The Progress. “But this is our livelihood. There’s no way we’d survive otherwise.”

According to ALR rules, permanent agricultural buildings, like the Fantasy Farms’ greenhouses, cannot be used for non-farm related events on agricultural land, as per the decision of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) in April 2019.

City of Chilliwack officials notified the Morans that they’d received a complaint about the haunted house attraction, which triggered an investigation.

“We hadn’t even opened Reapers yet. Someone responded to some of our advertising,” Moran said.

The farm owners had applied to the ALC to have their buildings’ use “grandfathered” for non-farm use like special events and weddings, after rules were changed by the previous BC Liberal government, but that request came back “refused as proposed.”

The rules stipulate that no existing permanent structures are allowed to be used for “non-farm events.”

“As the ALC panel refused the proposal to allow the use of the subject property to host annual and special events, occurring outdoors and in permanent buildings, beyond what is permitted within the ALR use regulation…the advertised events are considered to be in contravention of ALC resolution #116/2019, City Bylaws and ALC regulations,” according to the Oct. 8 letter from City of Chilliwack.

The Morans tried to suggest their greenhouse structures are well built and much safer than a tent in the field as seen in other agritourism operations, but to no avail.

“B.C. is one of the only farming communities on the continent that does not fully embrace agritourism,” Moran said. “There should be a new zoning designation for Agritourism and Agrieducation.”

If there is a way to get through this the Morans said they will let the public know as they are trying to get these rules changed.

“We will try to figure out a way to keep the pumpkin patch going and make it as much fun as it is today but with all the unrealistic regulations from the agricultural land commission it may be impossible,” Moran wrote in a social media post.

“We have worked very hard over the past 26 years in building this farm into a safe, fun, family-events farm for our community and many surrounding communities, and it breaks our hearts that we will no longer be able to do this. We would like to thank all of our past and present customers for your support and love we will miss you all.”

City officials sent a letter to Fantasy Farms on Oct. 4 requesting a written response of their intentions by Oct. 11.

The Morans are sharing a petition against the provincial legislation. They say they will continue with Reapers until the end of the month.

The Progress has reached out to Agriculture Minister Lana Popham for comment.

READ MORE: Festival for all things garlic

READ MORE: Weddings and some non-farm events allowed


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Gary Moran describes details in his train station at Fantasy Farms to members of the Canadian Council of the Blind before they board a small train during a tour of his farm in May. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Gary Moran describes details in his train station at Fantasy Farms to members of the Canadian Council of the Blind before they board a small train during a tour of his farm in May. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Just Posted

VIDEO: Agassiz, Harrison honour Remembrance Day

The annual ceremony took place at AESS, followed by a moment of silence at the Agassiz cenotaph

LETTER: Death on Highway 7 shows enough is enough

Agassiz resident Brent Caughy shares his displeasure at the bad driving on Lougheed Highway

LETTER: ACE move a betrayal

Agassiz resident Harvey Andrew shares his thoughts on the ACE program and its move into AESS

LETTER: Harrison lagoon plan needs to benefit taxpayers

Harrison resident Ed Wood shares his concerns about the draft plan for the lagoon

LETTER: Time to honour Agassiz, Chilliwack veterans

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness remembers local veterans in his letter to the Observer

VIDEO: Loose cow causes traffic problems on Highway 1 in Chilliwack

The bovine tumbled out of the back of a trailer while travelling westbound on the highway

Sportsnet fires Don Cherry after negative comments about immigrants

Don Cherry had said immigrants don’t wear poppies like other Canadians do

Trudeau’s new cabinet: Gender parity because it’s 2019? Or due to competence?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will soon appoint his new cabinet

Coquihalla drivers urged to be careful amid freezing rain alert

Special weather statement in effect for highways between Hope, Merritt, Kamloops and Kelowna

Canada among three G20 countries least likely to hit emissions targets

It says Canada, South Korea and Australia are the farthest off

Conservatives’ Scheer wants Trudeau to open Parliament Nov. 25

That’s five days after Justin Trudeau is scheduled to swear in a new cabinet

14 SeaBus cancellations, free rides for veterans from TransLink on Remembrance Day

Free rides also available for current Armed Forces members, first responders

Last remaining Centurion tank from the Korean War makes its journey ‘home’ to B.C.

Tank arrives in B.C. the day before Remembrance Day after a more than 4,500-kilometre transfer

‘Your vehicle burns a lot of fuel:’ Victoria drivers wake up to angry notes

‘This handbill was left on your vehicle because your vehicle burns a lot of fuel,’ notes read

Most Read