The City of Abbotsford should consider increasing the cost for developers who want to build on land removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), Coun. Moe Gill suggested last week.
Developers must currently pay $20,000 into an Agriculture Enhancement Fund for each acre of former ALR land they wish to rezone for industrial purposes. The policy stems from a promise the city made to the Agricultural Land Commission a decade ago when it successfully applied to have hundreds of acres of farmland excluded from the ALR.
But Gill thinks the city should consider upping the amount developers must contribute to the fund, given the rising cost of the land in question. He noted that the price of farmland has doubled in the past decade, to more than $100,000 an acre now.
At the request of council, staff will review the memorandum of understanding that outlines how the fund is managed and how money is raised. That will include considering the $20,000-per-acre fee currently in place.
Gill made the suggestion following a presentation by Wendy Neufeld of the Abbotsford Community Foundation, which administers the fund and distributes grants. Neufeld told council that the endowment of the fund now has $655,303, while more than half-a-million dollars have been distributed in grants since 2012.
Grants are awarded to projects and concepts that aim to encourage innovation, increase productivity, build capacity and promote sustainable practices in the agricultural sector.
This year grants will go to a project hoping to convert manure into odour-free and easily storable nutrient products, a new hybrid grow house from Lepp Farms, and a robotic pest-killer.