Letter: Richmond city council puts land first

Dear Editor,

Re: “Farm prices not just about mega homes,”   Letters, Dec. 20.

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The letter suggested Richmond council, reflecting the view of Richmond electors, has made an error in blaming mega mansions for the dramatically rising prices of farmland.

There is ample evidence to the contrary. The proliferation of mansions from 6,000 sq. ft. to 23,000 sq. ft. has turned Richmond farmland into a repository for wealthy foreign and domestic investors, who have zero interest in farming.

In 2017, Richmond City Council became alarmed at the number of mansions springing up on ALR land — spurred on by increasing media attention from our local and national media. The result was Richmond’s commission of an independent professional report by Site Economics — The Wozny Report. The conclusion of the report was endorsed by Richmond city staff.

It stated that “a house size of 4,200 sq. ft. would keep farmland values in balance with farmland use.” It would take almost two years of debate on this report, and an election, to bring this recommendation to fruition.

Mr. Wozny was not alone. The Canadian Senate Commission on Agriculture and Forestry warned of escalating speculation of farmland by non-farming interests in March, 2018.

This was followed by the B.C. Commission Interim Report to the Minister of Agriculture which included 240 submissions from the agriculture industry, and 750 responses from B.C. farmers. The conclusion of this report is the pending provincial legislation which will limit house sizes on ALR farmland all over B.C.

Clearly, there are Richmond farmers who believe the new bylaw will adversely affect the speculation on ALR prices. There were many special interests that expressed this view at public hearings. The focus of government public policy must always favour prudent stewardship of the land. The mistake of the previous council was to favour the interests of certain Richmond landowners/farmers. This council has opted to favour Richmond farmland.

John Baines



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