The Provincial government finally is tightening up the loopholes that have emboldened developers to snap up provincially protected farmland, pave them over and create private gated estates. These mansions are then resold with supernormal land lifts to offshore gentry and numbered companies.
It was a perfect scam, with payoffs for farmland developers and tax loophole advantages to foreign buyers. The previous City of Richmond Council majority was complicit in allowing mansions of nearly 11,000 square feet on farmland, with an additional 3,200 square feet of additional house for the “help” on larger properties, ignoring the limitations set up by the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Set up in 1973, the ALR’s goal was to protect prime agricultural lands for farming and ranching. The Provincial NDP government got quickly to the point labelling their press release “New Legislation Makes it Clear: Farmland is for Farming”.
Stating that “land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is for farming and ranching in British Columbia, not for dumping construction waste or building mega-mansions” Lana Popham the Minister of Agriculture put the blame squarely on the past Liberal Provincial government.
“The old government let wealthy speculators drive the price of farmland out of reach for young farmers and allowed some of our most valuable agricultural land to be damaged .We are protecting farmland in B.C. to ensure land is available now and for future generations of farmers, so people in British Columbia have a safe, secure supply of locally grown food on their tables for years to come.”
The Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act (Bill 52) proposes three alterations to the existing act:
- All land in the Agricultural Land Reserve will be one single zone, affording agricultural land protection on all farmlands;
- All house sizes are restricted to 500 square meters (about 5,400 square feet) with anything larger or additional requiring approval from the Agricultural Land Reserve authority;
- An immediate halt to construction material dumping, toxic waste and other fill on farmland that damages agricultural soil through heavy fines.
To give you an idea of how fertile the local farm soils are in Metro Vancouver, three percent of the land in this region grows 65 per cent of the province’s farm receipts. And in British Columbia farmers produce nearly half of all the food that is consumed in this province according to a 2007 report. These farmlands in the Metro Vancouver region are also the most fertile in Canada as well as being close to a large market.
You can track the progress of Bill 52 through the legislature by following this link.
The YouTube video below published by Richmond Voices in 2018 shows the size of some of the massive mansions being built on protected farmland in the City of Richmond, which was called the “Garden City” because of its farmlands.