I grew up in Richmond. In the 1940s Lulu Island was known for its loganberries. Richmond Farms, located West of No. One Road between Williams and Blundell Roads and Frasea Farms on Sea Island, each had their own bottling plants and supplied most of the City of Vancouver with its dairy products. The area South of Steveston Highway held the record for the largest yield of potatoes per acre in Canada. But by the late 1950s the pressure for development became too great. Municipal elections became flooded with money. Unknown candidates were able to buy seats on council and town planning went out the window. Subdivisions were scattered willy-nilly and infrastructure was expensive. I think of all those fish bearing drainage ditches that are now encased in concrete. The Agricultural Land Reserves gave the municipalities the power to enforce their zoning bylaws.
Today, I live on 10 acres in the Agricultural Land Reserve in Yarrow. My house was built in the 1970s. My property is a narrow strip less than 300 feet wide. But it is still worth about $800,000. Compare that to what I could buy for the same money in Surrey or Langley. It is priced as residential land not farm land. It’s a life style choice.
Clint Hames proposals (More work needed on ALR reform, Chilliwack Progress, April 11) would make it even cheaper and in more demand. I should be renovating my raspberry field buy what is the point; when I sell it, it will only become pasture for some millionaire’s horse.
But at $30,000 to $40,000 per acre what could I grow to pay the interest on that amount of money? Most of my neighbours are also on small acreages. Many of them have their lands rented out to dairy farmers or other legitimate growers at minimum benefit just to maintain their agricultural tax assessments.
Maybe the property owners are subsidizing farmers and the Agricultural Land Reserve is having the desired benefit after all?