Richmond wants Port blocked from using farmland for expansion

Malcolm Brodie
Malcolm Brodie

THE City of Richmond has launched a campaign to protect farmland from port expansion. Richmond Council approved a motion Monday calling on other municipalities in the region, B.C. and Canada to support a request for federal regulatory changes to prohibit Port Metro Vancouver from purchasing any Agricultural Land Reserve property for port purposes.

“There’s no middle ground when it comes to farmland. Our remaining farmland is a precious resource critical to the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of our region, province and country,” said Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “We’re sending a strong message that using farmland to support port expansion is unacceptable.”

Richmond has had a simmering dispute with Port Metro Vancouver since the Port acquired 239 acres of farmland adjacent to its properties in southeast Richmond. In its recently completed master land use plan, the Port designated those farmlands as a “special study” area. The City has repeatedly requested the Port eliminate any uncertainty and declare the property will remain as farmland.

The Port has indicated it requires an additional 2,300 acres of land to support its expansion plans and there are concerns additional farmland within the Metro Vancouver region could be under threat of development.

In addition to prohibiting the Port from purchasing farmland, Richmond is also asking the federal Transport Minister to require the Port to establish a meaningful public consultation process with local governments along with formal dispute resolution process to address municipal / Port issues.

“We recognize that the Port is an important economic driver, but its continued success cannot come at the expense of farmland,” said Brodie. “We believe there are many viable opportunities that would allow continued growth of international trade without impacting our region’s farmland. Unfortunately, the Port seems unwilling to consider these options, which is why we need federal intervention.”

Richmond is also requesting that Transport Canada require the Port to dispose of its Richmond property within the Agricultural Land Reserve, along with any other ALR properties it owns.

Richmond will be asking the Lower Mainland Local Government Association to support bringing a resolution on the issue forward at the next annual conventions of the Union of BC Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The request will also be forwarded to senior elected officials including the Prime Minister and Premier, as well as local MPs and MLAs.