15 Nov Press Release November 7 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7, 2018
Richmond FarmWatch Welcomes ALR House Size Limits and Awaits Further Measures to Protect the ALR
Since the NDP took office in May 2017, Richmond FarmWatch has been asking the government to enact solutions to the many issues affecting farming across the province, and they are pleased with the decisive action that both the provincial government and the newly appointed Richmond city council have taken to limit speculation on farmland this week.
On Monday, the provincial government announced Bill 52, limiting house sizes in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to less than 500 m² (approximately 5,400 square feet). On Tuesday night, in a special Richmond council meeting, veteran councillor Harold Steves introduced a motion to ensure their bylaws are brought in line with this potential legislation for house size. The motion goes one step further by reducing the house footprint and limiting non-farm residential uses to a smaller home plate. It passed unanimously.
“With firm limits in place at both the provincial and municipal level, farmland will be insulated from extreme speculation, and consistency across BC will ensure that speculative developments won’t be pushed onto neighbouring municipalities,” says Michelle Li of Richmond FarmWatch.
“Saving farmland is a bipartisan issue. Last year we had local Richmond Liberal MLAs calling on the city of Richmond to adopt the provincial guidelines of 500m². Now with broad support from the NDP and Greens, we can finally anticipate the end of the era of mega mansions on the ALR,” says Laura Gillanders of Richmond FarmWatch.
“The provincial limit isn’t going to be enough to protect farming in areas with such close proximity to residential developments as in Richmond, or Surrey and Langley. When a house of 5,400 square feet can be built across the street from a residential home which can only be 3,600 square feet, we are still going to see farmland lots being targeted for development. Municipalities need strong guidance to calculate the right size, not just the maximum,” Gillanders said.
Richmond FarmWatch is also very encouraged by the measures in Bill 52 to stop the dumping of waste and illegal fill on farmland.
“The issue of dumping on farmland is the core of how FarmWatch began in 2013 when construction waste dump sites were discovered on Richmond farms. The province addressing both of these issues is a critical step to saving farmland for future generations. We also look forward to more measures to protect farmland, including taxation and incentives for farming, which we expect will be in the 2019 budget” Gillanders said.
Richmond FarmWatch has been pressuring city council to act on mega mansions cropping up on farmland over the last two years with little success, until recently when two new councillors were elected to council.
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