Bill 6 wipes the smile off happy face barn near Cayley, Alta.

Owner says she was just trying to capture how Alberta farmers are feeling right now

By The Calgary Eyeopener, CBC News Posted: Dec 08, 2015 2:08 PM MT Last Updated: Dec 08, 2015 2:08 PM MT

The happy barn near Cayley, Alta. is now a sad barn.

The happy barn near Cayley, Alta. is now a sad barn. (Kylana Rogers-Hambling/Facebook)

Happy face barn wears a Bill 6 frown 7:06

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A southern Alberta barn that has been smiling at drivers for more than 30 years as they pass the hamlet of Cayley, Alta., has been feeling a bit down lately.

Last week the owner wiped the grin off the famous Highway 2 landmark and replaced it with a frown in protest of the NDP’s proposed farm safety legislation.

“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t that just capture how farmers and ranchers feel right now?’ I couldn’t think of a better landmark to kind of represent them and their feelings toward Bill 6,” said Kylana Hambling.

She and her brother made the change to the barn before attending a farm protest in Okotoks on Dec. 2.

Bill 6, which comes into effect Jan. 1, will force farms and ranches to provide their employees minimum wage, vacation pay and injury compensation benefits.

Workers will also have Occupational Health and Safety protection — a right already held by agricultural employees in every other province in Canada.

Cayley Alberta

An anti-Bill 6 sign in the field next to the landmark happy face barn off Hwy. 2 near Cayley, Alta. (Kylana Rogers-Hambling/Facebook)

The legislation exempts family members, whether they are paid for farm work or not. Neighbours who come to the farm to help are also exempt.

Hambling says the law, as it’s written now, means she probably won’t be able to employ her hired man next year and believes many other farmers will be in the same position.

“We just feel it’s been too fast. We’d like to see an opportunity for all of us to consult on it and be part of a really good stakeholder group with government officials and agricultural representation and then we could really make it work for us,” she said.

“You can tell by the back-peddling, and the trying to make amendments really fast before they push it through — it just shows it’s not ready. And we would just really like that opportunity to help them with that.”

Hambling says the smile on the barn was originally put up by a previous owner, who kept horses and ran the Happy Face Equestrian Barn.

She says she’s been getting plenty of emails from people asking her if she will ever turn the frown upside down again.

The answer is yes. The happy face barn will be back — right after Christmas.