Affordable Lifestyle Restriction

The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) was a good idea when it was introduced in the 1970s. Having lived in Los Angeles, I would never want to see that kind of urban sprawl here.

But if too much land is off-limits to development, the ALR can needlessly increase the cost of housing to the point where it does more harm than good. After all, what’s more important, locally grown potatoes or an affordable home? And with all due respect to the Condo King, not everyone is ready to “give up the dream” and embrace the micro-suite lifestyle. Especially when we don’t have to.

Have a look at this map created from the Agricultural Land Commission’s website. The ALR is in green.


I don’t know what others think, but that looks pretty excessive to me. (The next time someone says we don’t have enough land because of the US border, show them this map).

It also doesn’t help that we’ve restricted development in the North Shore mountains. With a few public works projects, we could easily satisfy our water needs using other reasonably close sources. If there’s anything this Province has enough of, it’s water!

WatershedMapI’m not suggesting that we pave over paradise. But like with most things in life, there are trade-offs. Seems to me that if the cost of locally grown produce and locally sourced water is million dollar homes, it might be time to make some adjustments.


7 thoughts on “Affordable Lifestyle Restriction

  1. What is the point of building on the ALR? More condos to buy as assets and not have people live in them?

  2. The problem if you let that land out of the ALR and putting it into residential is you’re permanently taking it out of agricultural use. And how long are you staving off the million dollar houses? Do you take out a third of the land until there’s the threat of million dollar houses and again then take out another third? They’re not building any more prime agricultural land, don’t you know. I’d prefer ALR (and parks, while we’re on the subject) to be sacrosanct. By no means does this mean I’m against opening undeveloped or underdeveloped land, but I think it needs to be land that’s not serving an important purpose.

    Which reminds me: whatever happened to that Porteau Cove development that was supposed to happen years ago? You’d think that would be looking pretty good right now.

  3. Interesting comment at GF for more research. Looks like some of the land is already reserved for housing, but developers manage supply to keep prices up while doing some creative accounting to avoid taxes.

    #18 dutch4505 on 05.24.15 at 10:18 am
    The increase of housing is a reflection of higher land costs. Although construction costs are higher each year the main culprit is land costs. Note that in the lower mainland of BC there is an estimated two thousand acres of non Agricultural Reserve Land (ALR) being held for development between Chilliwack and Richmond/Delta and Surrey. Developers can hold land for future development and therefore restrict the supply of land and thereby increase land costs. The difference in BC is that developers can avoid a major holding cost such as property taxes. This is done by enrolling in a government program of farm class. Producing receipts of 2500 in agricultural sales (ie sale of one horse) will reduce property taxes by at least 90%. In other words the provincial government for example will pay a developer $10,000 (property taxes on 5 acres of raw land) if a horse or a cow is sold. (or produce fake receipts) Only in BC.

  4. The fact that the global economy is based on the notion of finite growth means that removing any land from the ALR is a pointless exercise. Given enough time in the same system, and a few years later you’re right back where you began. Next.

  5. Sorry, should be “infinite growth”

  6. I would take at least 80% of the land out of the ALR over time. Something that many green supporters do not understand, is that a farm isn’t nature. And a private farm is not something the community can enjoy, as it is private property, trespasser will be prosecuted.

    I appreciate leaving a small heritage amount of farmland in a protected status. And possible even some ultra rich neighbourhoods left where each owner will have 10 acres of land in the middle of a growing metropolis.

    With the land freed up from the ALR, it does not all have to go into new subdivisions, roads, and office buildings. Much can go into, bike lanes, walking trails, bird & nature preserves. Public parks, playgrounds and sports fields. High density areas can be built, with a focus on transit and amenities within walking distance.

    Or Vancouver can keep the ALR as now – but then Vancouverites should not complain when only wealthy people can afford to buy homes. Or complain about commuting an extra hour each day, as they drive past mile after mile of farmland on their way to school or work.

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