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The Battle For Our Farmland


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thttps://www.richmond-news.com/real-estate/richmond-council-votes-to-cut-alr-home-sizes-even-further-1.23498256

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Richmond just did an about face on size limits on farm "houses" despite foot dragging on the issue for some time now., all at the expense of the future of farming here.  If you've been to the area recently, the changes are shockingly daunting.  Open plots of farmland are now obscured by grotesque, sprawling  "buildings" that are more hotel resorts than  anything resembling homes.   Satellite images on Google Maps is shocking when comparing in a then and now way.   (More recent images would be even more devastating, as it's happening fast and furious with a surge of development taking place).

It's no secret that some members of council who stood firm in their stance and gave the green light for this development despite public outcry, opposition and ALR guidelines (that supported structures half the size of what they were allowing), had been contributed to, heavily, by a small group of farmland owners.

The group heading the charge to build these structures  started a campaign to protect their "rights", however, it quickly became known that their interests as developers and realtors factored in.  That farming, admittedly, was their plan B.

The million dollar election, as it had been dubbed, becomes important in this discussion .  Did it contribute, at least in part, to the devastation on farmland?   Why did council ignore ALR guidelines and public outcry to allow this?   It deserves a probe and questions with answers as to why and how decisions were made.  Some suggest that, at least in part, dots may be connected. and backs scratched.  It actually becomes laughable, as council members photographed at events hosted by special interest groups denied being there.  Knowing them.  Posters promoting the events were quickly changed, with apologies being offered for the "confusion".  Wut?

At one point, council and city planners both sort of shrugged their shoulders when asked about why a massive "house" at the corner of Steveston Highway and No. 4 Road had been approved.  Neither side seemed to have the answers and basically suggested they "didn't know" how it slid through for approval, which was quite concerning.  Promised to look into it further.

 

I, personally, attended back to back meetings that went into the wee hours (1:00 AM ) to accommodate the room full of people wanting to present.  There were impactful Power Point presentations that showed the glaring devastation that was taking place yet, at that point, council decided to approve houses of nearly 11,000 sq feet on our farmland (with ALR guidelines that support half that size).  It was appalling.  An immediate surge of applications went through and the results can be seen on Blundell Road, between No. 4 & 5 Road and No. 2 Road, south of Steveston Highway.  It's shocking and has become an international story and an embarrassment to Richmond.

Some of these very farm owners  (I'm hard pressed to call them farmers, with a few rows of blueberry trees in the backyard) also happen to be full time realtors and developers who are responsible for selling off  plots of farmland here, advertising them as  potential investments for speculation.  So their argument of wanting to build themselves "generational homes" for their families was overshadowed by their interests to profit from farmland.   Seeing those very farmer's faces plastered on the FOR SALE signs on farmland was  transparent, yet council continued to support them.   If not a conflict of interest that should be examined more carefully at some point, for sure, self serving self interests by a council that  plugged their ears to ongoing argument against the exploitation of farmland for speculation. 

Some argued that it is "their property to do what they like with".   But it isn't because farmland comes with stipulations that also coincide with low taxes and other perks that support farming.   All properties are subject to bylaws and rulings.  Hell, I want to have an elephant sanctuary in my condo.  Can't.

There is zoning for a reason and it was just revealed that a "farmhouse" in Richmond was advertised as an Air BnB.  Fines were imposed but...council eventually resoled the issue by...issuing  a business permit so it's now "all good".  This is our farmland, being gobbled up for greed, not sustainability.

 

The recent municipal election proved why it's SO important to get out there and vote.  Due to the numbers changing, we now have enough support to put a halt to this stripping of farmland.  Too little too late in my view, but something.    Council members who defiantly stood in the way of these changes now have changed their tune...likely knowing that their days are numbered too if they continue on the path of destruction.  They are now going even lower than the recommended limits, to a house size of approximately 4,200 sq ft.   Personally, I think some understand that they are now outnumbered and are trying to save face.  Even with egg all over it.  

 

I watched as two steadfast councilors of integrity and bravery stood in the face of this adversity as it unfoded.  Had fingers pointed at them in meetings by a sometimes hostile group.    And now, they get the last laugh as the numbers have changed in council and, surprise, surprise, we have back pedaling by the councilors who support the flavour of the day.  I won't name names, but two were ousted and that was enough to shift the balance of power.   

I saw a complete lack of respect for a councilor/farmer who has been here for generations and lives a simple,modest life and leads by example.  Bullying and taunting.  But he shrugged it off and said he wouldn't give up the good fight...in his 80's, I am so happy that he is getting to see some of the battles now being won that he's fought so hard for.   The last laugh, before he signs off. He has paved the way for others to also stand in there and fight for what is right for a community, not a select few.

 

I grew up here.  It's heart wrenching to see the changes, however, the secret's out and this black mark that had us being looked at sideways from afar is now going to be but a stain.    Assessments on farmland have shot up from a hundred thousand to upwards of $10M...yet, the property taxes are less than what I pay in a condo.  It's so out of whack that it's glaring.  But it'll be restored back to a more realistic and attainable goal for future farmers.

 

Food sustainability is an extremely important issue and our crops are so incredibly valuable, especially heading into the future.  It's so important to preserve this rich soil  and, despite the greed of a select few who got their way for too long here and threatened the viability of farming  by pushing prices through the roof., it's been halted.  


 

 

 

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Richmond's become an absolute joke.  The headlines are not flattering and I think this council finally can see beyond their egos and self interests to recognize that they're not pulling wool over anyone's eyes.  We're watching....

 

This election was a HUGE message.  People have had enough.

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I don't live in greater Vancouver any longer (:() but this issue is repeated, in some fashion, all across North America. It is so much easier to go ahead with the construction, and ask forgiveness later, when the building is already up.

I see this kind of issue ($$$ rules) here where I live; Little Rock, AR. Several places in this city where traffic is an absolute snarl, but development along small, 2 lane roads, continues. People that live along these roads, or in subdivisions located off of them, are getting screwed from traffic. It can take 15-20 minutes to turn left in rush hour traffic; a traffic light is desperately needed there. But along another road, where some of the "moneyed" residents of Little Rock live, has a traffic light along a road with less that 20% of the traffic.

Farmland here, especially closer to the city, is rapidly becoming subdivisions...even if they are in flood plains.

 

The almighty $$ rules us. Getting politicians to do "the right thing" is not easy. Not when their opposition is listening to funding and election dollars to get them in.

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1 hour ago, BPA said:

So what happens with the existing Mega houses on the farmlands?   Can there be stiff taxes for exceeding the current limits?  Or are they exempted (grandfathered)?

Those are all questions being asked of this current/new council.  That I believe will do as much as possible to ensure people aren't exploiting the system, as has been the case. 

 

Some are even suggesting knocking down the "homes" that exceed the limits set out by the ALR, although I don't know that I agree with that.  A huge waste of resources as the materials would likely just get dumped and not recycled.

 

Too bad this was allowed to go unchecked for so long though...the previous council really made a mess of things.

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1 hour ago, Father Ryan said:

I don't live in greater Vancouver any longer (:() but this issue is repeated, in some fashion, all across North America. It is so much easier to go ahead with the construction, and ask forgiveness later, when the building is already up.

I see this kind of issue ($$$ rules) here where I live; Little Rock, AR. Several places in this city where traffic is an absolute snarl, but development along small, 2 lane roads, continues. People that live along these roads, or in subdivisions located off of them, are getting screwed from traffic. It can take 15-20 minutes to turn left in rush hour traffic; a traffic light is desperately needed there. But along another road, where some of the "moneyed" residents of Little Rock live, has a traffic light along a road with less that 20% of the traffic.

Farmland here, especially closer to the city, is rapidly becoming subdivisions...even if they are in flood plains.

 

The almighty $$ rules us. Getting politicians to do "the right thing" is not easy. Not when their opposition is listening to funding and election dollars to get them in.

It spoke, volumes, when the municipal election numbers came in here.....the two responsible for spearheading the drive to stop these mansions placed number one and two in votes received.  The two  ousted were longstanding incumbents...not surprisingly, with interests in real estate and development.

 

This has been going on here for some time...the Mayor's been in place for far too long and flip flops come election time.  He voted against limiting house sizes then, as the election neared, suddenly changed his mind.  He was also the lesser of evils and so people voted for him based on that. 

But it's a trend in the right direction and sends a message to those on council who've been ignoring the pleas of residents here.  We will turf you when we can.

It was a huge victory to get some fresh faces on board...people of integrity who aren't bought and paid for by special interest groups.

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53 minutes ago, debluvscanucks said:

Those are all questions being asked of this current/new council.  That I believe will do as much as possible to ensure people aren't exploiting the system, as has been the case. 

 

Some are even suggesting knocking down the "homes" that exceed the limits set out by the ALR, although I don't know that I agree with that.  A huge waste of resources as the materials would likely just get dumped and not recycled.

 

Too bad this was allowed to go unchecked for so long though...the previous council really made a mess of things.

There would be lawsuits up the ying yang if they tried to knock down the homes.  If the permits were filed properly and were approved by the city then there is nothing that can be done.  If the house was put up "illegally" before they got approval, the city could potentially put daily fines on the properties though.  Its so stupid, Abbotsford is just as bad, these giant ass houses are bloody hotels out here.

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13 minutes ago, Russ said:

There would be lawsuits up the ying yang if they tried to knock down the homes.  If the permits were filed properly and were approved by the city then there is nothing that can be done.  If the house was put up "illegally" before they got approval, the city could potentially put daily fines on the properties though.  Its so stupid, Abbotsford is just as bad, these giant ass houses are bloody hotels out here.

I agree.  Damage is done and even if they could rip them down, is that environmentally responsible to do so? 

 

Sorry to hear it isn't isolated to Richmond...although I think we're the worst with our insane clown posse on council. 

 

I just really can't believe that, like stooges, when asked about the one on 4 & Steveston that does exceed the limits, they point at each other like "I didn't do it, did you do it?".  When shown pictures, no one would claim responsbility for authorizing the permits.

 

Some of these homes did exceed the bylaws and regulations, however, were applied for as exceptions because they were needed as "generational homes".  Maybe, only then, if it could be proven that they weren't designated generational homes but, instead, put on the market?  Or used as Air BnB's, which is what many of them are becoming.  (And suspected illegal casinos).  There's  currently a fight for one based on that (illegal casino). 

https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/b-c-government-trying-to-seize-richmond-mansion-claiming-it-was-used-for-violent-crime-and-money-laundering

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2 minutes ago, debluvscanucks said:

I agree.  Damage is done and even if they could rip them down, is that environmentally responsible to do so? 

 

Sorry to hear it isn't isolated to Richmond...although I think we're the worst with our insane clown posse on council. 

 

I just really can't believe that, like stooges, when asked about the one on 4 & Steveston that does exceed the limits, they point at each other like "I didn't do it, did you do it?".  When shown pictures, no one would claim responsbility for authorizing the permits.

 

Some of these homes did exceed the bylaws and regulations, however, were applied for as exceptions because they were needed as "generational homes".  Maybe, only then, if it could be proven that they weren't designated generational homes but, instead, put on the market?  Or used as Air BnB's, which is what many of them are becoming.  (And suspected illegal casinos).  There's a fight for one based on that (illegal casino). 

Wasn’t Vanderzalm’s Fairy World (or whatever the heck it’s called) farmland that had to be re-zoned?  The fight to keep our farmland has been, and will continue to be, a problem.  

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6 minutes ago, Alflives said:

Wasn’t Vanderzalm’s Fairy World (or whatever the heck it’s called) farmland that had to be re-zoned?  The fight to keep our farmland has been, and will continue to be, a problem.  

Yep, that disaster.  Now it's a big block of ugly with an unsuccessful market place, a few offices and some condos that no one lives in  Perfect spot for it, right in the middle of the rush hour knot.  I wouldn't live there if you paid me...impossible to get in or out between 4-6.

 

Terra Nova too...now with the declared income in line with those on the DTES.  Despite being some of the wealthiest properties with multiple luxury cars parked out front.  "Homemakers and students" own them.   Collect subsidies while our property taxes are through the roof.  What a tangled web we've woven.

 

Illich's place was one of the first...bowling alleys and such.  I ride my bike past it often.  It's now under foreign ownership.

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16 minutes ago, Tortorella's Rant said:

Government doesn't care. They get their cut. They don't work for the people and never really have; at least not those who don't have the money.

Well, the good thing is, local Government is full of ego and now that they're being exposed under a negative light, is scrambling to right the ship and save face  I trust them zero per cent, but am glad they're being forced to see the writing on the wall.  Which is..."you're next".  Getting Johnston and Dang out of there was step one.  McNutless and McPhail (or, as I like to call them, Mr. Dress Up and his side kick Casey) should be rethinking their game plan with what just went down.

 

If you can believe it, this Mayor reportedly had the gall to tell people to "take the money and run" when they challenged him on what was happening here.   Cash out.

 

But, the gig is all but up for them.  It's so good to see our votes count for something and that change is possible.  If even a slow drag after that fact.

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One of the NDPs first major moves regarding urban development was to curtail the destruction of farmland and further protect the ALR through Bill 52.  It limits the size of homes on ALR land.  It heavily fines people who dump on ALR land.  Finally it also fines people who allow land to go fallow when they refuse to farm and utilize it as farmland out of spite or in hopes to petition to remove from ALR holdings.

 

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-bc-moves-to-limit-size-of-houses-built-on-agricultural-land-reserve/

 

https://www.leg.bc.ca/parliamentary-business/legislation-debates-proceedings/41st-parliament/3rd-session/bills/first-reading/gov52-1

 

People are already whining and complaining, realtors are up in arms and so are development trusts/companies.  Screaming that this is socialism and government intervention.

 

But then...these people have never gone a day without food.  I imagine if we took all these overly affluent morons and stuffed them in a nice cold room and refused to feed them for 3-5 days they'd get the message.

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1 hour ago, Tortorella's Rant said:

Government doesn't care. They get their cut. They don't work for the people and never really have; at least not those who don't have the money.

Governments don't care because people don't care. Let's not forget the cause and effect. 

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6 minutes ago, Warhippy said:

One of the NDPs first major moves regarding urban development was to curtail the destruction of farmland and further protect the ALR through Bill 52.  It limits the size of homes on ALR land.  It heavily fines people who dump on ALR land.  Finally it also fines people who allow land to go fallow when they refuse to farm and utilize it as farmland out of spite or in hopes to petition to remove from ALR holdings.

 

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-bc-moves-to-limit-size-of-houses-built-on-agricultural-land-reserve/

 

https://www.leg.bc.ca/parliamentary-business/legislation-debates-proceedings/41st-parliament/3rd-session/bills/first-reading/gov52-1

 

People are already whining and complaining, realtors are up in arms and so are development trusts/companies.  Screaming that this is socialism and government intervention.

 

But then...these people have never gone a day without food.  I imagine if we took all these overly affluent morons and stuffed them in a nice cold room and refused to feed them for 3-5 days they'd get the message.

&^@# all those people:

 

food security > realty

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