Foreigners considering to purchase local farmland beware: Oak Bay MLA and leader of British Columbia’s Green party Andrew Weaver is watching closely.
Recently, Weaver announced he wants to see the government ban foreigners from buying farmland in a bid to cool the province’s real estate market, after he said far too many non-residents in Metro Vancouver are buying agricultural land, but instead of farming it, they build large homes and selling the same property for inflated prices.
The idea for a ban came earlier in February this year, when Weaver first introduced legislation to limit foreign ownership of farmland following the introduction of the foreign buyer’s tax.
“It came to my attention that properties on valuable ALR land in the Fraser Valley were becoming massively inflated… in particular, a property on ALR land that sold for $1.5 million two years ago was recently listed for $28 million,” Waver told told Oak Bay News. “Coupled with the new government who is ran on a platform to improve affordability, now is the time to take decisive action on this file.”
Some exceptions apply, as Weaver added the proposed prohibition would not apply to anyone who pays taxes in Canada, including Canadians living overseas and people in the country on work visas.
“The issue is not what passport you hold, but rather whether you work and pay taxes in BC, thereby contributing to our economy. In particular, speculation has rapidly spread to ALR land causing a massive inflation of prices,” he said.
Aside from the issue of flipping the properties for profit, Weaver said the result of losing farmland directly threatens food security. Several other provinces, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Prince Edward Island, have measures in place regulating who can purchase farmland.
“ALR land is intended as agricultural land that will promote the food security of British Columbians while helping grow our agri-food business,” he said.” It is crucial that government protect ALR land so that our agriculture industry can continue to thrive and benefit BC’s economy, not real estate speculators who do not otherwise contribute to our economy.”
Last year the province’s previous Liberal government implemented a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers purchasing residential real estate in Metro Vancouver, but the levy does not apply to farmland.
That didn’t necessairlty stop egregious sales of properties from happening, as speculative investors migrated their capital elsewhere.
As such, Weaver plans to keep up with the transition and help keep farmland in the right hands.
“I am engaged in ongoing discussions with the Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham, who is highly knowledgeable on this file and is committed to ensuring that ALR land is used for what it is intended,” he said, adding there are a range of policy options – including possibly limiting house size on ALR land like the Richmond City Council recently voted to do.
“That will help ensure that ALR land is protected for the benefit of British Columbians.”