The mansion sits on 26.6 acres of land in Richmond, B.C.
By Diego Flammini
A mega-home being constructed on protected farmland in British Columbia has driven the price of the property up by an astronomical amount.
The seven-bedroom nine-bathroom mansion on No. 2 Rd. in Richmond, B.C. is worth $765,000, according to BC Assessment, a Crown corporation that classifies and values property in the province.
Last year, the 26.6 acres of land was valued at $88,336. With the addition of the home, the value of the land jumped by 9,245 per cent to $8,255,000.
The home will fall within the boundaries of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), which contains 4.6 million acres of provincially owned farmland.
Residents like Laura Gillanders are concerned that not only will the property value continue to rise after the home is complete but also that the land prices will disable farmers from being able to produce crops.
“By next July that home could be worth millions more,” Gillanders told Farms.com today. “But the real story here is that the land went from being farmed to not being farmed.”
“And the value shows that this is a non-farm house. If it was a farmhouse being built to maintain the farm, they would still be farming. The income is clearly not generated from agriculture.”
Gillanders is a director with the group Richmond FarmWatch. The group’s goals include preserving farmland, enhancing the viability of agriculture and ending speculative development of ALR land.
But large developments on ALR land in the Richmond area are becoming common.
In February, a speculator purchased a four-acre blueberry farm with about $80,000 in annual crop revenue and with farm status (meaning the owner only pays municipal taxes), for $2 million. The individual received a permit to build a 12,000 square-foot home.
From there, the value of land kept rising.
“They re-listed it for $2.77 million with an advertisement saying the owner could have a huge backyard, private driving range, a 24-seat theatre and that it was all permitted on ALR land,” Gillanders said. “The land was relisted in the fall for $4.5 million. Now a foreign investor is flipping the land for $7.7 million and the house isn’t even built yet.”
By allowing the building of these mansions and enabling investors to make millions off the sale of land, nobody would want to pick the blueberries, Gillanders said.
So Richmond FarmWatch is taking their concerns to the provincial legislature.
Last month, Andrew Weaver, leader of B.C.’s Green Party, introduced a Richmond FarmWatch petition asking the government to limit the size of mansions on ALR land.
The group had originally been in talks with officials in Richmond but it felt the discussions weren’t progressing, Gillanders said.
“We felt like we were going up against a brick wall,” she said. “Municipalities in Richmond were letting homes three times the size of what they should be, be built on ALR land.”
It could be a year before any formal discussions surrounding regulations on home sizes on ALR land could take place, Gillanders said.
Top photo: Laura Gillanders