Richmond Council maintains status quo on home sizes on ALR properties; Green Party attacks decision

At Monday night’s Richmond Counil meeting.
Photos by Sukhwant Singh Dhillon

RICHMOND Council has decided to maintain the status quo on home sizes on the agricultural land reserve while allowing a secondary dwelling.

Those who supported a reduction in home sizes were Mayor Malcolm Brodie, who insisted the whole quality of the agricultural land reserve was being fundamentally changed by what was happening on the residential side of it and said that in a few years there would be estate houses everywhere, and councillors Harold Steves and Carol Day. The three also opposed a secondary dwelling on ALR properties.

Peter Dhillon, chairman of Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., the world’s leading producer of cranberry foods and beverages, told Council: “Every time you put these restrictions on us you hurt our ability to reinvest.” He added: “If you want us to keep farming then please have the discussion with farmers.”

The B.C. Green Party caucus is calling on the provincial government to take immediate action to stymie speculation on ALR land. The Caucus says the vote at Richmond council last night demonstrates why provincial action is needed.

 

MEANWHILE, Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party Leader, said on Tuesday: “Mega mansions on ALR land are imperiling our food security, destroying agricultural land and driving up prices well beyond the reach of young farmers.”

“The provincial government has a number of tools at its disposal that it should immediately use to address the issue of speculation on ALR land. These include restricting foreign ownership of ALR land, applying the speculation tax and foreign buyers tax to the ALR or creating legally binding house size limits. It should use at least one of these immediately to prevent the loss of any more farmland.”

MLA Adam Olsen, a former Saanich Councillor, added that local governments have been asking the province to take action for years.

He said: “This decision at Richmond Council will drive the price of ALR in their community sky high, it will impact the rest of the province and demonstrates the need for action at the provincial level. When I was a Central Saanich Councillor, we knew 10 years ago we needed to take action on limiting house size and location on ALR land, we called on the government of the day to act. We were not alone and rather than take action the Province has buried this issue in consultation only further increasing pressure on the cost of farmland. The issue of speculation driving up land prices is well-documented and its solutions are clear. Delaying action only causes the issue to spiral further out of control: Last year, Richmond alone lost 50 farms due to the construction of mega-mansions on farmland. I urge the minister in the strongest terms to recognize to take immediate action before any more farmland is lost.”

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