Larger home in Richmond farmland rejected

A proposal for a 500-square-metre home in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) was rejected by Richmond’s planning committee on Wednesday in a 4-1 decision.

Only Coun. Alexa Loo was in favour of allowing the home that would have exceeded Richmond’s bylaw by 100 square metres. The rest of the committee followed the recommendation of staff to deny the application as the Richmond bylaw caps home sizes in the ALR at 400 square metres.

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Coun. Linda McPhail, who is chair of the planning committee, said anyone has the right to bring forward an application for a larger home in the ALR, however, they should do their homework on what council might allow. This application gave no agricultural reasons for having a larger home, for example, needing to accommodate family members for farming purposes.

“It comes down to what is the benefits to agriculture,” McPhail said. “Are you going to be farming? Do you have a farm plan? Our guidelines are very clear.”

She added that there are farming possibilities on small lots as well.

“That is the hope that one day it will be farmed,” McPhail said. “It doesn’t mean that we as a city can make somebody farm.”

She pointed some farmers have blueberries and other produce on small lots while others say it’s difficult to farm on small lots.

Wei Dong Luo applied to build the home at 11951 Blundell Rd. (at No. 5 Road) on a lot smaller than half an acre. The previous home has already been demolished and the site is largely covered in what appears to be preload.

The Agricultural Land Commission passed legislation in February limiting the size of homes in the ALR to 500 square metres, but, in Richmond, council set the size limit already in December to 400 square metres. Since then, council has rejected two applications for larger homes in the ALR.

The two other rejected applications were in east Richmond on River Road and on Granville Avenue between No. 4 and No. 5 roads.

A previous building permit for the Blundell Road property, which was submitted during a withholding period in the fall as the city was preparing its 400-square-metre bylaw, was cancelled.


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