6,000-name petition on size of ALR home presented to Richmond council

The escalating debate over the size of homes being built on farmland in Richmond, B.C,. has generated a 6,000 name petition that will be presented to city council on Monday night.

Citizens group wants maximum size of homes on ALR land to be cut in half

Citizens gathered outside a Richmond city council meeting Monday to express concern over large homes being built on the city's agricultural land. (CBC)

The escalating debate over the size of homes being built on farmland in Richmond, B.C,. has generated a 6,000-name petition that was presented to city council on Monday night.

The Richmond Citizens' Association is demanding a cap on the size of homes being built on agricultural land to just over 5,300 square feet, roughly half of what's currently allowed.

The group argues homes larger than that are driving up prices and reducing arable land.

"We are not getting farmhouses necessarily built on farmland. We are getting estates built on farmland compete with tennis courts and swimming pools and indoor theatres," said Kelly Greene, a member of the association. 

"We are hoping that by reducing the house size, we are going so see something that is more conducive for actual farming," she told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition.

The petition is circulating online and as a printed copy. 

Protestors say current rules are resulting in speculators buying prime agricultural land, developing it and selling it as a profit, eroding the region's food security. (CBC)

Argument for large houses

Last May, the city imposed a size limit of 10,700 square feet on homes being built on ALR land in Richmond.

Some landowners in the area argue that restricting house size further would harm farmers' livelihoods, especially for multi-generational families living under the same roof.  

A second petition, circulated by the Richmond Farmland Owners Association, is asking the current size restrictions be retained. They have about 1,000 signatures on two petitions. 

"A lot of these farming families are large family units. There are multiple generations living under one roof," said Gunraj Gill, who has been hired as a consultant and spokesperson for the association.

He works with members of the association who own 68 individual properties across 2,500 acres of farmland.

Right now, there are homes for sale on Richmond Real Estate ranging from $3 million to $5 million that are 5,000 square feet or less — some of them offering up to 10 bedrooms.

A rally was planned for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 26 outside Richmond City Hall. The petition was presented at the 7 p.m.council meeting.

The debate about the size of homes being built on farmland in Richmond, B.C. is escalating and will be taken to city hall on Monday evening. 9:23

With files from The Early Edition.