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

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Shay Baker, 17, hasn’t been seen or heard from since Oct. 21 and is wanted on outstanding warrants. (Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police searching for high-risk missing youth

Shay Baker, 17, is wanted on outstanding warrants

Plastic Ocean by Oak Bay resident Gabriela Hirt is in the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Gabriela Hirt/cropped to fit)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

The M’akola Housing Society is looking to build two new residences in Sooke to help provide affordable accommodation for local Indigenous people. The projects were granted nearly $1.1 million toward their construction through the Regional Housing Trust Fund. (Photo courtesy M’Akola Housing Society)
Regional Housing First Program strikes another chord in Greater Victoria

Affordable housing partnership grants will help house over 100 people on income assistance

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, BC Greens Sonia Furstenau, BC NDP John Horgan (The Canadian Press photos)
British Columbians vote in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read