Tuesday November 6 is a the mid-term election day in the USA but it is also a big day for the City of Richmond too, where the inaugural meeting of the new City Council will include looking at residential development on agricultural land.
And it’s not only Richmond under siege with mansion growing~it’s happening in California wine country too.
The last City of Richmond Council has been complicit in allowing the best agricultural lands in Canada supposedly protected under the Agricultural Land Commission to become private gated offshore owned estates.
The previous Council against the advice of their own staff endorsed the building of nearly 11,000 square foot mcmansions on farming lands. That Council also allowed larger farm properties to not only have a huge house, but an additional 3,200 square foot house for the “help”.
The Province has capped housing at 5,382 square feet, and for a good reason, to ensure that land was kept for farming, and that farmers always had access to farmland. Using loopholes in existing legislation offshore buyers can escape paying the foreign buyers’ tax by purchasing agricultural lands, and developers get supernormal landlifts by turning farmland into private exclusive residential estates. The loser? Future food security close to metro markets, and the fact that farmers will never ever be able to own this farmland.
The Napa Register outlines that in California’s Napa Valley mcmansions are also being built on prime farmland in five and ten-acre parcels. These “mansions” are half the size of the ones that Richmond City Council approved, being only 17 rooms and 6,700 square feet. But again these estates have the same impact, paving over prime farmland for private residential pools and activities.
Price Tags Vancouver has previously reported that the exploitation of farmland for quick developer profit may be over. A majority of council (including returning Mayor Malcolm Brodie) are now working together to vote for farmhouse size that is compliant with the Agricultural Land Commission’s guidelines.Scaling back to residential houses of 5,382 square feet gives agricultural land the chance to continue in farmland production as was intended. Price Tags will be watching on Tuesday to see Richmond City Council’s discussion and actions on keeping the best farmland in Canada in production for future generations.
Here’s a tweet from Councillor Harold Steves, a father of the Agricultural Land Reserve, farmer and environmentalist, as well as a long serving member of Richmond City Council on the impact of mansion cropping.
The "Castle" is an appropriate name for #RichmondBC mega-mansions. The owner lives in the big house and the tenant farmers farm the fields around it. That was called feudalism a few hundred years ago. via @TheTyee https://t.co/81zSXuOTwM
— ClimateChange Steves (@Harold_Steves) October 14, 2018