VIDEO: Realtor of massive house for sale says new ALR rules would hurt wealthy farmers

A 14,500-square-foot King Road home is the fourth largest to ever hit the market in Abbotsford

Proposed new rules limiting the size of homes that can be built on agricultural are overly restrictive and will penalize wealthy farmers, says a realtor currently selling a 14,000-square-foot mansion.

Last month, the province announced that it intends to pass legislation that will ban the building of new mansions over 5,400 square feet on farmland unless the owners can show they will benefit agriculture. Most homes that have been built on agricultural land over the last three years would have been barred under the proposed new rules, which aim to discourage estate homes from gobbling up the region’s precious farmland.

This week, one such estate home – a 14,500-square-foot, six-bedroom, 10-bathroom house on King Road – went up for sale this week. The house is the fourth largest to ever be put up for sale in Abbotsford, according to realtor Jonathan Gelderman. The mansion was built by the owner of an adjacent farm. The home also functions as a bed-and-breakfast and has a ground floor with a commercial-style kitchen and rooms that can host conferences.

The cost of agricultural land in the Lower Mainland, Gelderman said, is that those who farm are either rich or have pooled their resources with extended family.

“To own a farm you have to be wealthy in the valley. You’re not going to get a five- or 10-acre farm, fully operational, without millions of dollars … so people here farming are wealthy and for you to tell a wealthy person they can’t have a nice home is insane,” he said.

Those who aren’t individually wealthy, but have bought land with extended family, are not allowed to build multiple non-modular homes on the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Construction of single, larger houses is the natural result of that policy, Gelderman said.

He said a more effective means to ensure the productive use of ALR land would be to increase the amount of farm income a property owner needs to show in order to qualify for significant tax breaks.

“I know a lot of people – quote, unquote – farming in Abbotsford and the reason they farm – in quotes – is because they want to pay less property tax,” Gelderman said.

That so-called farming, he said, isn’t actually productive.

“If you took that threshold and bumped it up to … something meaningful, then what’s going to happen is, if they’re not actually operating a farm and you have to tax them on the full value of their estate, they’re going to be paying gobs of money.”

The province has said that the proposed changes may not be the end of new rules, and a panel aimed at “revitalizing” the ALR has highlighted the issue. The City of Abbotsford did the same in a letter to the Minister of Agriculture earlier this year. Meanwhile, Gelderman says the value of mansions like that which he is selling on King Road will only increase.

“Homes like this are going to go up [in value] because you can’t build them anymore,” he said. “Right now, people who want a home of this magnitude want to build it themselves. But if the government takes that right away, houses like this are going to jump up.”

RELATED: Most homes being built on Abbotsford farmland exceed new size limits

RELATED: Abbotsford asks for help enforcing ALR rules

RELATED: Agricultural Land Reserve changes heading in right direction, say ag reps


@ty_olsen
tolsen@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC SPCA team helps discover new feline virus after outbreak at Quesnel shelter

Fechavirus is a kind of parvovirus, which makes cats and kittens very sick

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Commercial salmon fisheries delayed for Bella Coola area

DFO notice says Area C gill net fisheries in Area 8 have been delayed until June 15

Pacific Coastal won’t open until community is ready

The company has suspended operations until further notice

COVID-19: B.C. landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson says he’s heard no concerns from public

Love flourishes at Peace Arch Park, but COVID-19 concerns loom

South Surrey park becomes only place for international couples to meet

UPDATE: B.C.’s Central Kootenay issues evacuation orders for hundreds of residents due to flooding

An evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

Most Read