BC cracking down on farmland 'mega-mansions' in new legislation

Nov 7 2018, 12:30 am

The BC Government has introduced legislation that, if passed, would restrict the size of “mega mansions” built on the province’s agricultural land reserve (ALR).

In 1973, the ALR was established to protect land with ideal conditions for farming and ranching. To date, it currently protects 4.6 million hectares of land in BC.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, the legislation “makes it clear that land in the ALR is for farming and ranching… not for dumping construction waste or building mega-mansions.”

“The old government let wealthy speculators drive the price of farmland out of reach for young farmers and allowed some of our most valuable agricultural land to be damaged,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture.

Bill 52, known as the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, will make three key changes if passed:

  • The BC government will reinstate one zone for all ALR land in British Columbia. This would ensure that all land in the ALR receives the same amount of protection.
  • The sizes of new houses will be limited to less than 500 square metres (5,400 square feet). This rule can only be bypassed with an application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) with direct proof that it would support farming.
  • Introducing increased fines and penalties to crack down on the dumping of construction debris and toxic waste.

The biggest turning point of the legislation is the potential crackdown on the building of mega-mansions, which has steadily increased over the past few years. Richmond, for instance, has seen a sizeable jump in the production of plus-sized homes in ALR land.

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of luxury estates increased by 13.3%.

Jennifer Dyson, chair of the Agricultural Land Commission, explains that mega-homes and estates prevent the ALR land from ever being used for agriculture.

“These large-scale residences for non-farmers impede agriculture, drive speculation, and further erode the land base,” says Dyson.

According to BC’s Food Self-Reliance Report, which was written conducted in 2007, local farmers produce close to 50% of the food the British Columbians produce.

The progress of Bill 52 can be tracked here.

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