The Supreme Court of British Columbia is going to be dealing with the question of whether a farmer can be restrained from clearing trees on his property in spite of normal farm practices legislation. A B.C. farmer purchased a Nanaimo property in 2006. In December, 2005, the Regional District of Nanaimo had registered against title to the property a restrictive covenant that prohibits the removal of any vegetation from a 30 metre wide strip along the boundary of the property with an adjacent road. After the farmer began to clear trees, Nanaimo sued under the restrictive covenant, and also applied for a pre-trial injunction to prohibit any further clearing.
The Supreme Court granted the injunction as requested. In the course of deciding the injunction application, the Court examined the defences put forward in the action by the farmer. The main defence appears to be that the farmer has not breached the covenant since it is invalid by reason of non-compliance with the Agricultural Land Commission Act, s. 22(2) and the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act, s. 2(1). The farmer claims that his clearing activities were farm operations.
We will have to wait and see what the Supreme Court makes of this argument and what implications its decision may have on similar situations in the future.
Read the decision at: Regional District of Nanaimo v. Buck.