Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Down on the farm in Richmond

The 55.2 hectare Garden City lands in Richmond will remain in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) as a result of a recent ruling by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).
The City of Richmond had asked for the farmland to be excluded from the ALR, reasoning that the Garden City lands are isolated from other farmland in an urban area surrounded by highways with low capability for agriculture in its current state.
The site is bordered by the following streets: Westminster Highway, Alderbridge Way, Garden City Road and No. 4 Road.
The ALC found that Richmond had made no attempts to reclaim the land, which is close to highly productive farmland, and concluded that the existing road network enhances agricultural suitability by providing a buffer from adjacent lands.
The commission also noted that Richmond did not provide an adequate assessment of the effect of removing the lands on the agricultural land base in the municipality.
The property is owned by the Canada Lands Company which holds 50 per cent in an undivided beneficial trust for the Musqueam Indian Band. There is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Canada Lands Company, the Musqueam and the City of Richmond. If the lands had been removed from the ALR, the MOU would have given Richmond 50 per cent of the property. The Canada Lands Company and the Musqueam likely would have developed the rest for high-density housing. The purchase and sales agreement has now expired. There is no expiry date to the MOU.
Many local residents wanted to keep the lands for agricultural and ecological use. This use is supported by provincial MLA Hon. Linda Reid (Richmond East), federal MP John Cummins (Delta-Richmond East), in whose ridings the lands are located.
Source Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Vancouver