The City of Richmond will be seeking support to protect farmland from port expansion, when B.C.’s local politicians gather next week for the annual Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention.
Delegates at the convention will be asked to support Richmond’s motion calling for federal regulatory changes to prohibit port authorities from purchasing any Agricultural Land Reserve property for non-agricultural purposes. The UBCM Convention runs from Sept. 21 to 25 in Vancouver.
“We’re deeply concerned that Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) is prepared to use farmland to meet its expansion plans and this is unacceptable,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie.
“Farmland is a critical resource that must be protected. This issue potentially impacts on any community that is home to port activities, so it’s important that local governments join to together to oppose any attempt to erode our inventory of farmland.”
Richmond, said the city, has had a simmering conflict with PMV since the port acquired 239 acres of farmland adjacent to its Richmond properties. The property is within the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and zoned for agriculture use, but the port, according to the city, has aspirations to possibly convert it to industrial uses.
The City of Richmond has made repeated requests for a meeting with PMV’s board of directors to discuss its concerns, but the port’s board has declined to meet with city council.
“It’s clear local governments need a united voice to get port authorities to listen to our concerns,” added Brodie.
“That’s why we’re asking our UBCM colleagues to support a move to curb the port’s ability to ignore local and regional wishes when it comes to farmland.”
In addition to prohibiting port authorities from purchasing farmland, Richmond is also asking the federal Transport Minister to require port authorities to establish a meaningful public consultation process with local governments along with a formal dispute resolution process to address municipal/port issues.