Limit House Sizes on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in Richmond, B.C.
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It’s time to look beyond the aisles of the local supermarket and recognize that farmers are vital for food security and are the heart of Canadian industry and life. Canadian farmers are the top global producers of flaxseed, durum wheat, lentils, canola, pulses, peas, and mustard seeds. Last year, Canadian fruit and vegetable farmers added $1.8 billion dollars to the economy and employed over 2 million Canadians. Moreover, Canada is the 5th largest exporter of food in the world. Undoubtedly, Canadian farmers are remarkable and contribute in countless ways to Canada’s economy. They ensure that we have access to quality food. We owe a great deal to the hard work of those farmers who toil every day to put food on our tables.
It is for this reason that swift action must be taken to prevent people from taking advantage of farming incentives meant for people who are actually contributing to the farming industry. Richmond is facing challenging issues concerning illicit property uses on land reserved for agriculture. Because of a controversial city council decision (with the exception of councillors Carol Day and Harold Steves) it is now possible for buyers – who, if we are honest, are speculators – to build extravagant estates on farmland. In doing so, they are gaining two benefits at the expense of local farmers: bypassing residential lot guidelines and pricing policies, and avoiding British Columbia’s new foreign-buyer 15 percent residential tax.
To put the problem into perspective, the City of Richmond allows 10,794 square feet (1,000 square metres) mega-mansions on land designated as farmland. This is twice the maximum size recommended by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture. To suggest that a nearly 10,794 square foot dwelling, with a ten-car garage, a twenty-five-seat theatre, tennis court, swimming pool, and 15 bedrooms or more is a “farmhouse” is absurd.
Based on our respect for local farmers and their outstanding work, we should be advocating that the provincial 5,382 square feet (500 square metres) maximum farmhouse guidelines are upheld and formalized into law. Special exemptions should be rare, only made for legitimate farmers, and issued on a case-by-case basis. It is time for us to act, now, and preserve our precious farmlands and hold our City Council to account. Richmond has some of the best farmlands in all of British Columbia, and we must do everything in our power to protect the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and ensure our future residents’ food security.
~ Jack Trovato
We, the undersigned, citizens of the City of Richmond, are concerned about the threat to our Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
The recent decision of Richmond City Council to allow mega-mansions to build up to 10,794 square feet (1,000 square metres) is double the provincial recommended maximum size, and nearly triple the maximum recommended size per City staff recommendations. Provincial guidelines specifically state that house sizes on ALR lots should be sized appropriately to divert development to city lots. As the current bylaws stand, large home development is diverted onto farmland.
We petition the City of Richmond to:
□ Implement a moratorium on new applications to build on ALR lots until;
□ A maximum house size of 5,382 square feet (500 square metres) is expediently adopted as bylaw.
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