Part 2 - What Happens Now?
For those of you who have never had the misfortune of losing a home or other structure to fire, you should know that there is a lot of red tape, or in our case, bright yellow Do Not Cross tape - strung up like at a crime scene.
For weeks, the whole FARRM family stared at the remains of the barn waiting for all parties involved to give us the green light to start clean-up and reconstruction.
Our animals remained buried in the rubble and we were tormented, unable to remove them and put them to rest. Insurance needed quotes from construction companies and the fire department needed to sign off on the scene. In the time leading up to this, the barn remains caught fire multiple times as it continued to smolder and reignite. The fire department had to return each of these times to assist.
May 1st: 9:00am. We got the go ahead to start cleaning up. No more yellow tape, only the hope that we could rid ourselves of this heap of rubble and begin rebuilding much needed shelters and a new barn.
May 1st: 11:30am. We completed the necessary paperwork needed to apply for a development permit so we could build the first of many structures; a hay shelter.
May 1st: 3:45pm. We submit our development permit application for our initial structure to the County of Wetaskiwin. We pay our fee, and are about to leave when a staff member in the development permit is asked to take a second look. His first question upon looking at our drawing of the acreage was about whether or not the garage on the property was attached or detached... We were applying to put up a hay storage shed on the opposite end of the property so we were confused as to why the garage was a topic of discussion.
In April 2018 the County of Wetaskiwin changed its bylaws. As per our zoning we are directly affected by the new bylaw, which limits the total square footage of "accessory buildings" to an overall total of 1500sqft for the property. This means that every building currently on our property (including the detached garage, storage sheds, lean-to's, etc.) would contribute to this total, leaving us at the allowable limit already. Because of this, Farrm is unable to rebuild the barn or any other structure on the property unless the bylaw is amended.
In the weeks to come, leading us up to our current day, we have met with the County of Wetaskiwin Development team and went through each of our concerns and options. The County of Wetaskiwin recognizes that the current bylaw is not ideal and is looking at once again amending it, but that would be decided upon by council and would not happen quickly, if at all.
After extensive discussions and a very productive meeting, we have had one potential option suggested, an application for rezoning to be classified as an Agricultural Hobby Farm. Although this is an option, we do not necessarily meet the main requirements for this rezoning, and a lot would weigh on the County of Wetaskiwin council to review our application and either approve or deny it. If the application to rezone is approved we would be allowed to rebuild our structures.
On May 28th we submitted our application for rezoning. The County has remained a helpful resource and provided us with the additional information we required to complete the application expediently. We recognize that there are bylaws in place for a reason, and in no way is our current situation anyone's fault, but unfortunately it is another hurdle.
At the current time we cannot rebuild our barn, nor can we add any additional shelters to the property without violating the new bylaw.
This leads us to the future. You all deserve to know what is going to happen to all of the animals you have come to know and love.
We do not like to take chances and gamble on uncertainty, especially when the well-being of our animals depends on us winning. So we are not going to do that. We need a plan, because as our fellow Albertans know, summer does not last forever. In a few months we will have the harshness of winter upon us and we have a responsibility to our animals to provide the comforts they need to weather the storm.
FARRM needs a new home.
Before the fire, our goal for FARRM was to expand and move to a new property in five years. Unfortunately, fate has decided for us and we need to start efforts to make that happen now. Our dreams for FARRM are larger than life and we need a place that will allow us to grow. This fire has brought us down to our knees but we refuse to stay there. This fire has not broke our spirit, it will not be the last thing the world hears of FARRM. We have grown stronger as a community, and our vision for the future has become clearer than ever.
We have taken steps to finally become a registered charity, so yes, we will be able to issue tax receipts, and apply for grants to assist us in helping make our dream for the sanctuary come true once the application is approved.
As a team we have also sat down and discussed extensively the operation of a new FARRM. One of our main considerations was whether or not to use funds raised to do a complete rebuild if our application for rezoning is approved. Then, we would technically be able to once again operate FARRM at our current location. But, in a few years FARRM would still need to relocate as the need to expand has been imminent for years already.
We find we are turning animals away daily because we are limited by space and size.
So we have made a decision, one that will see a more sustainable future as we grow to become a land for misfits that truly has no limits.
As a team we have decided we need to start fundraising efforts to rebuild from the very position the fire has left us; from nothing. To completely rebuild at our current location not only feels like it would be a missed opportunity, but would be beyond painful for all those who have memories here. We need a fresh start, the ability to move the humans and animals of FARRM away from the pain and trauma that is embedded in the memories of this property. There are triggers everywhere, and daily operations are filled with hurt.
Our fundraising efforts will be extensive as we work towards relocating. Fundraising efforts will focus on purchasing bare land closer to Edmonton, and developing it to suit the specific needs for FARRM's new future.
At this time, we will not be going into details for FARRM's official plan, but will instead, in the next little while release more information with a breakdown of expected costs and a goal for fundraising. We want to make sure that the plan we present to our supporters is clear and transparent.
Thank you again to everyone for keeping us in your thoughts, sending messages of encouragement, and for as always believing in our dreams with us. We are confident that our dream for FARRM will be one that we can all find hope in.
Our message is one of hope.
We have a community that inspired it.
We won't let you down.
All our love,
From all of FARRM's misfits (humans included).