UPDATE: The Massey Tunnel Replacement project threatens the No 5 Road Backlands.
The Ministry of Transportation plans to widen # 5 road and they propose taking up to 20 meters of the backlands . Write to your MLA , Linda Reid (email :firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell her how you feel.
This is a critical issue for all of Richmond. Agricultural land is our security and we must work to save it for future generations.
Sustainable farming starts with land we need to save the AGRICULTURAL GREEN ZONE by supporting the No. 5 Road Back lands policy. Richmond City Council created the policy to support farming in the back lands behind the Highway to Heaven along hwy 99 decades ago. The policy states ” Co-operate as necessary to remove constraints to farming the backlands, in partnership with others…undertake active farming of the backlands.”
There have been three major changes since 2010
#1 – The Gardens” development has netted the City 12 acres of farm land.
#2 – The new owners of ” Mylora Golf Course ” have proposed donating 20 acres of farm land in the back lands to the City.
#3 – Kwantlen Polytech University has asked for farm land, in perpetuity for the development of a Sustainable Agriculture Institute for the purpose of training in new, state of the art types of farming that would include research.
These changes allow for a opportunity to fast track the GREEN ZONE in the back lands and an exciting new future for lands that have been under utilized for decades. I met with Mr. Kent Mullinex and others at Kwantlen Polytech university and their plan for sustainable farming and education is compelling. In the future KPU will need 30 to 45 acres and the GREEN ZONE could be their forever home. I think we should support education in farming and maintain the 110 meter development setback for properties on the east side of No. 5 Road.
The City of Richmond could work with KPU to arrange to lease land in the backlands because this option would allow for expansion in the future .
Other community groups have indicated to me their desire to help to support the Agricultural GREEN ZONE on No. 5 Road and we need to demonstrate leadership and commitment for saving the farm land and when we do , the farming community will step up and help as well.
The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a provincial zone that gives priority to agricultural use. Nearly 40% of Richmond is ALR land. It is all prime (after site improvements). We have some of the best land on the planet to grow food.
Richmond City Council often considers local applications to exclude land from the ALR or allow non-ALR uses on ALR land. In the past decade, the city even applied twice to remove the 136-acre Garden City Lands from the ALR. The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) said No. The ALC is an independent tribunal responsible for preserving B.C.’s agricultural land, encouraging farming, and ensuring agricultural compatibility with the plans and policies of local government.
For the 2014 municipal elections, the ALR issue is as critical as ever. The recent spring sitting of the legislature saw the BC Government pass Bill 24, the ALR Amendment Act (also called the bill to kill the ALR). One effect is that 90% of BC’s ALR land is at greater risk to be lost. It was a travesty to see (on TV) this bill rammed through into law without fair consultation. The members of city councils are the last line of defense.
Here in Richmond, nearly half our ALR is under roads and buildings, and more is at risk to urban sprawl has been enabled by federal agencies (i.e. the Port of Metro Vancouver) and even our own city council. Thankfully, we also have some of the strongest farm advocates in the province. Recently Ray Galawan, Bob Featherstone and FarmWatchBC were vigilant for over 400 days at a Finn Road property to stop the dumping of construction waste on prime farmland. Now there are plans for a mega-mansion there, and applications will soon be presented to Richmond City Council.
We need a majority on council who oppose such things so firmly that we end these attempts to squander our farmland forever. On the other hand, if history repeats itself, 4 more years of the current Richmond City Council would mean the proliferation of mega-homes, port container storage, and inactive ALR farmland.
The RITE Richmond team have put together a Development Action Plan to provide farmers with better access to ALR land. We have incentives for ALR landowners, mentoring partnerships, and a public education series as part of our plan.