The ALR and Rising House Prices in BC

It seems that everyone wants their 1/4 acre block in a friendly suburb located not too far from the nearest Starbucks.


But is this a reality that we are prepared to watch unfold in BC? Do we want to keep trashing viable farmland for development? The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) represents an attempt by the government to hold onto a valuable asset for farming… land.

However, with the recent report by Demographia indicating the affordability of housing around the world, a flurry of lcoal suggestions have popped up, including this response in The Province newspaper, from Philip Hochstein of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association…

World-class housing prices in B.C.

In Vancouver, Philip Hochstein… said it’s time to rethink the ALR, which makes up 20 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s so-called Green Zone. It includes parks and public spaces and accounts for 70 per cent of Metro Vancouver. “It’s one of the things driving up the cost of housing,” he said.
“Supply is being restricted by the land use policy.”
The ALR has become a “sacred cow,” he said. “Meanwhile, my kids can’t afford to buy a house.”
Hochstein said 60,000 hectares set aside for agricultural use isn’t being used for agriculture. He said it may be unrealistic to anticipate that the Lower Mainland could be fed by food grown on that land, a goal when ALR was born.

But urban planner Bob Ransford said, “If we develop all of the Agricultural Land Reserve, what would we do then?” He said Demographia is an advocate of urban sprawl.

A response the following day in the same paper gives a perspective with a rare depth of understanding of the problem. Land is not the issue, opening the ALR will only add to the problems…

Fast-buck developers create high home prices

Ask Hochstein and his big-money developers to commit to building affordable homes for the growing number of our homeless. Opening up the ALR will only allow them to construct more condos that the average working stiff like myself can’t afford.

Is food becoming less important than money, I’m sure someone could point out a historical example of the failure of a society where money and economic and social growth became more important than food?

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Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.