The Richmond News reports that Green Party leader Andrew Weaver is serious about his proposal to ban foreign ownership of land on the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) that is over five acres. In his bid to curb “the cash cow of speculative real estate”, Mr. Weaver also noted that Richmond city council should be lowering the present size of houses on the ALR from the Richmond accepted max of 1,000 square metres (that’s a mansion-like 10,764 square feet) to the size recommended by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, 500 square metres or 5,382 square feet.
In a surprisingly unsustainable move, Richmond City Council approved 1000 square metre mansions on farmland in the spring, despite the fact that their staff clearly told them that the lack of building restrictions brought a speculative nature to the purchase of farming property, increasing prices and ensuring the farmland would not be used for agricultural purposes. Council was swayed by property owners wanting to get the biggest bang for their agricultural property buck. After six months of allowing the mansioning of farmland, Richmond is revisiting their policy. And the locals are not happy.
One group of locals started the Richmond Citizen’s Association which have an online petition to limit house size to 500 square metres. This group already has over 2,000 signatures on the petition, which can be viewed here. As one of the Richmond Citizen’s Association states “To suggest that a nearly 10,794-square-foot dwelling, with a 10-car garage, a 25-seat theatre, tennis court, swimming pool, and 15 bedrooms or more is a ‘farmhouse’ is absurd”.
It is disappointing that the City of Richmond which was built on an agricultural foundation does not have an interest in preserving their larger tracts of agricultural land for local farmers. While 21 per cent of Richmond agricultural properties are less than five acres, the remainder could provide future food security. It’s up to Richmond City Council and residents to insist that these farms are important, and should not be shopped as speculative estates, devoid of the foreign buyer’s property purchase tax.