Today in the legislature I tabled a bill titled the Property Law Amendment Act to ensure that farmland in British Columbia is safeguarded from real estate speculation using foreign capital. In addition, it is important to ensure that British Columbia’s future food security is protected.
Since the introduction of the 15% foreign buyers tax in July of 2016, which only applies to Metro Vancouver, the consequences I warned about have begun to occur. Market speculation has moved to other regions of the province, like Greater Victoria, Nanaimo and Kelowna, and other sectors, like agricultural land. This has had the effect of reducing supply and driving up prices beyond the reach of the average family and farmer. In addition, it is important to ensure that British Columbia’s future food security is protected.
Why is this important for B.C. farms? There are a number of factors to keep in mind. The agricultural sector is vital to the provincial economy accounting for over $3 billion in farm cash receipts and employing over 26,000 directly from farming activities. The value added food processing industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the province directly employing an additional 32,000 people and generating $8.2 billion in sales.
In the 2016 farmland census, there were 4,621,699 hectares in the Agriculture Land Reserve, which accounts for 5% of total land in the province. These range from huge ranch land areas to intensely farmed plots of only a few hectares. There is an opportunity to revive local economies, especially in hard hit rural areas, boost youth employment and green jobs, by promoting the establishment and advancement of new and current farm businesses. That can only occur however if land prices remain stable and affordable.
The bill I brought forward today is one of a number measures that need to be implemented to boost agricultural business, ensure food security and offer opportunities in communities throughout British Columbia. It ensures only Canadian citizens, permanent residents and Canadian owned and registered companies can purchase agricultural land over 5 acres. Similar legislation already exists in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Québec and PEI.
Below are the video and text of the introduction of my bill together with our accompanying media release.
A. Weaver: I move a bill intituled Property Law Amendment Act, 2017, of which notice has been given, be introduced and read a first time now.
A. Weaver: I’m very pleased to introduce the bill intituled Property Law Amendment Act, 2017. This bill amends the existing Property Law Act to ensure that land held within the agricultural land reserve is protected from international real estate speculation. If passed, this bill would prohibit foreign entities from purchasing ALR land over five acres in size without prior permission from the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council.
Many other provinces regulate and restrict foreign ownership of agricultural land in this way. These include Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. Our agricultural land reserve should have the same protection here in British Columbia.
Speculation on agricultural land is driving up prices and putting British Columbians’ future food security at risk. We have a limited amount of land in the agricultural land reserve, and the future of food security requires that we take immediate action to protect it.
I move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
Bill M205, Property Law Amendment Act, 2017, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
February 16th, 2017
For immediate release
Weaver introduces bill to protect agricultural land from speculation
VICTORIA B.C. – To address the rampant speculation of agricultural land in B.C., a trend that sees valuable farmland left unseeded or turned into sprawling mansions, today Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party, tabled the Property Law Amendment Act.
“Since the introduction of the 15% foreign buyers tax on residential real estate in Metro Vancouver, speculators have targeted other areas of the Province and our agricultural land,” said Andrew Weaver, also the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
“Investors are taking advantage of tax breaks meant to encourage farming, building mansions and using the land for speculative purposes. As a result, farmland is being taken out of production and prices are skyrocketing, making farmland unaffordable for local farmers.”
The bill would protect land held within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) from international real estate speculation. If passed, it would prohibit foreign entities from purchasing ALR land over 5 acres, without prior permission from the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
Many other provinces regulate and restrict foreign ownership of agricultural land through limiting the maximum acreage that foreign entities can purchase, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, and PEI. B.C. is the only Western province that doesn’t restrict the amount of farmland foreign investors can purchase.
“Right now, B.C. is failing to protect our farmland in the face of foreign speculation and non-farming uses. Our farmland should be available to local food producers, not bought up by wealthy speculators. The future of our food security requires that we act immediately to protect and preserve our limited land in the ALR. This bill is one essential step towards that end.”
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Mat Wright, Press Secretary
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