From the Richmond News the City of Richmond has decided to create a bylaw restricting the size of houses built on the ALR (the Agricultural Land Reserve) in that municipality. A couple of things-if you purchase farm land you do not have to pay the 15 per cent foreign owner tax. And if you can crop blueberries or have a calf born on the property you can claim you are a farmer and have the land taxed as agricultural instead of as a large house executive estate.
“Last year, a Globe and Mail investigation found wealthy investors bought farmland in Richmond without any intention of farming and took advantage of tax incentives to pay meagre property taxes while, in some cases, operating illegal hotels. The investigation found local and foreign buyers enjoy large tax breaks meant to encourage farming. Last week, Richmond councillors voted to ban short-term rentals such as Airbnb.”
One of the City Councillors Harold Steves said “so-called monster homes built in 2015 on the ALR surged in size to an average of 12,087 square feet, compared with 7,329 square feet in 2010.” In a report expected to create a lot of controversy staff will be regulating house size and set backs as well as the size of other buildings on the properties contained in the ALR. The Province and the Agricultural Commission do not provide regulations across the province, instead assuming that each municipality will limit the size of estate houses on ALR farmland.
Consultation meetings will be held in March. Options include limiting floor area to 5,382 square feet for a principal residence based upon provincial guidelines, or using Delta’s zoning guidelines restricting building size to 3,552 square feet on lots smaller than 20 acres. Given the importance of maintaining the richest agricultural lands in Canada, Richmond will work to “minimize residential development on agricultural lands and increase farm viability” . Kudos to the City of Richmond for doing the right thing.