Port Coquitlam to protect farmland from residental takeover

Port Coquitlam is trying to stop its remaining farmland from being used as a cheap place to build big residential houses.

Vancouver suburb employs farmland zoning to stop 'monster homes'

Mayor Greg Moore says the few hundred hectares of farmland in Port Coquitlam is valuable and vulnerable to residential development (Google Earth)

Port Coquitlam is trying to stop its remaining farmland from being used as a cheap place to build big residential houses. 

Mayor Greg Moore said the Vancouver suburb only has a few hundred hectares of agricultural land, and it's in danger of becoming de facto residential land. 

"Residential is butting up against the farming land," he said. "People want to come out, and they want to build a really large estate home, and that's what we're trying to prevent."

The new bylaw to protect farmland has two parts. 

The first aims to prevent Agricultural Land Reserve plots from being bought by people primarily interested in living there residentially, who have no interest in farming the land. 

This is done by restricting the size and placement of homes. If passed, the bill will limit homes to 500 square metres or 5,300 square feet.

"It's still a good size home," Moore told CBC's The Early Edition. "Sometimes we see multi-generations living in one home to support the farm."

Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore says a new bylaw will protect valuable farmland. (CBC)

Bed and Breakfasts Income

The second part of the bill attempts to make small farms more viable by allowing farmers to run secondary businesses such as bed and breakfasts or other tourism-related operations. 

"They need some other areas of revenue so that they can still continue to farm."

Moore said most lots are between five and 20 acres, meaning they are not big enough for industrial farming. 

He added that he believes the community's farmers are on board with the new bill, but the city has had complaints from realtors who sell mainly to residential buyers. 

The third and final reading of the bylaw will be presented at a public hearing Monday.

With files from Matt Meuse