The province has confirmed what Richmond is already doing about limiting house sizes in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Richmond passed a bylaw in December that limits house sizes on farmland to 400 square metres, while the province has mandated a B.C.-wide limit of 500 square metres. The provincial law came into effect late last week. In addition, the provincial law regulates soil removal, increases penalties for dumping of construction waste and reunifies the ALR into one area so it has consistent rules.
“This new law will encourage farming and better protect farmland by banning mega-mansions, stopping the illegal dumping of waste on farmland and reinstating the one-zone system,” said Lana Popham, minister of agriculture, in a press release. “It’s a great step in our effort to revitalize the Agricultural Land Reserve so that British Columbians can count on a safe, secure supply of locally grown food on their tables for years to come.”
New offences for illegal fill-and-soil removal have been created under the new Act, with maximum penalties of $1 million or six months imprisonment for a first offence.
Originally Richmond council was looking to enact a house-size limit of 500 square metres, but a motion was put forward to reduce that further. The bylaw also included a limit on the farm home plate, saying it must include the septic field as well. Any garages are included in the 400-square-metre limit.
Established in 1973, the ALR is administered by the Agricultural Land Commission, an independent tribunal mandated to preserve agricultural land and encourage farming on agricultural land. The ALR includes over 4.7 million hectares of B.C. that are preserved for agricultural use — less than five per cent of B.C.’s total land base.