Harold Steves on why churches and ag land don’t mix

RE churches in Richmond, BC

Whether churches go on farmland is generally up to local government who can and should remove churches as a permitted use on farmland.

Decades ago churches in Richmond were a permitted use anywhere in the agricultural zone and did not require a rezoning. About 20 years ago, when a couple of churches were built adjacent to farms and the farms had to stop spraying their blueberries because of spray regulations protecting children from pesticides, Richmond removed churches as a permitted use in the Agricultural zone. Except one row of churches was permitted along the front 1/3 of peoperties along No. 5 Rd. as a compromise. The churches were to provide a buffer between the residential area of Richmond and the Agricultural area. As a requirement of the rezoning the churches were required to farm the other 2/3 of their backlands. Some did minimal farming and some didn’t. It has been a constant battle betweem Richmond and the churches to try to make them meet their commitment to farm the land.

Since then Richmond has been adamant that a proposed Memorial Garden with cremated ashes should not be permitted on farmland, nor any further incursion be made into the Agricultural Zone by churches.

Richmond has recently purchased the run down botanical garden site at the former Fantasy Gardens on No. 5 Rd. “The Gardens” will retain some of the original ponds and trails, but most will be converted back to farmland for allotment gardens and incubator farms. As “The Gardens” abuts the strip of un-farmed church backlands it is hoped that the churches will permit the city to include the church backlands for  growing food for the food bank, incubator farms and urban agriculture.



posted on Planning for Agriculture and Food Network


About Urban Food Revolution

Peter Ladner is a former Vancouver city councilor, Metro Vancouver vice-chair and business owner who is currently a weekly columnist at Business in Vancouver newspaper and a regular contributor to crosscut.com, a Seattle-based online news service. He is the author of The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way we Feed Cities, published by New Society in November, 2011. For the past two years he has been a Fellow at the SFU Centre for Dialogue researching, teaching and organizing public events around the theme Planning Cities as if Food Matters. He was first elected to Vancouver City Council in 2002, was re-elected in 2005 and ran for mayor in 2008. He is a former member of the TransLink Board, and was vice chair of the Metro Vancouver Board. Peter has been the publisher, president and part owner of the Business in Vancouver Media Group, which he co-founded in 1989. He has a lifelong interest in growing food. As a city councilor, he worked with the Vancouver Food Policy Council in initiating the city’s program to add 2010 food-producing community garden plots by 2010. He is vice-chair of the The Natural Step Canada, part of an international organization that advances sustainability in communities and corporations. He has a B.A. from UBC and did graduate work at the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning. He and his wife Erica have four adult children.
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