90% of self-declared Richmond 'farmers' don’t want changes to home plate size

According to a staff report being presented at a city planning meeting Tuesday, the majority of Richmond farmers want home plate sizes on the ALR to remain the same, based on feedback gathered during a public consultation.

In February, more than 200 people attended public open houses and the city received 525 feedback forms. Of those forms, 408 self-declared they were a non-farming Richmond resident, while 96 self-declared they were a Richmond farmer. Of those who stated they were farmers, 90 per cent indicated they did not want the farm home plate area reduced.

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For Bhupinder Dhiman, who wrote a letter to council and staff on behalf of the Richmond Farmland Owner’s Association, proposed new regulations are coming too soon after regulations were established last year.

“Barely six months after this updated policy came into effect, we are finding ourselves once again being targeted by individuals who unfortunately do not understand the realities of farming in our community,” Dhiman wrote in a letter. “Due to pressure from special interest groups, Richmond City Council is considering dramatically reducing these home sizes again which is creating economic uncertainty within the local farming community, and putting its long-term sustainability at risk.”

Ninety-three per cent of self-identified farmers also indicated through the feedback process that they did not feel the septic field should be included in the farm home plate area, while 91 per cent said they would not support a new regulation to limit the maximum house footprint.

However, the 408 non-farming Richmond residents had nearly opposite views on the same issues. Sixty-eight per cent believed the septic fields should be included in the farm home plate area while 77 per cent said they would support regulations to limit the house footprint on the ALR. Fifty-one per cent of non-farming residents who responded said they want the existing home plate size reduced.

“There have been too many mansions built on land that should have been retained for farming purposes,” wrote Jackie Brown in a letter to the mayor and councillors. “As a lifelong resident of Richmond I grew up on farmland, and still live in my family home within the ALR…My constant fear is that, because of lack of Council action to prevent it, we will lose this fertile land to more gigantic houses that are built for nothing more than prestige and/or investment.”

Following presentation of the report at Tuesday’s planning meeting, staff hopes to be directed to develop a customized bylaw with information on home size, footprint, number of storeys, septic field and maximum home plate size.

The open community meeting is at 4 p.m. in the Anderson Room at City Hall.

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