Frances Bula header image 2

Metro looks at tax changes to encourage agriculture, discourage lifestyle farming on ALR land

May 8th, 2016 · 2 Comments

Metro Vancouver is unique among North American cities when it comes to farmland. It has more farm-designated land in its boundaries than any other North American city. And that land, when it is farmed, is very productive.

Metro Vancouver farms have the highest “farmgate” revenue of anywhere in the province, due in part to their proximity to a big pool of people eager to buy at farmers’ markets or from farms directly.

But half of the 6,700-some parcels of ALR land in the region aren’t farmed. A quarter can’t be, because they are golf courses, road allowances or whatever. But the other quarter is sitting unused because the people who own those parcels have decided they make wonderful country estates or other non-farm uses. (The Vancouver Sun’s Kelly Sinoski did a story five years ago about the disturbing trend of mega-manions on farmland.)

Now, Metro planners are trying to come up with some tax changes that might encourage more farming … and discourage people who claim they are farming, but are producing so little revenue that they seem to be in the business mainly for the hefty tax benefits available if their land is classified as agricultural rather than residential. Changes are a ways off. A report Friday outlined some strategies, which I covered in my story here.

There’s more to come in the next few months.

Categories: Uncategorized