Bill Jones vs winery skirting of ALR rules

Retired farmer Bill Jones’s “Winery chips away at rapidly disappearing farmlands” letter responds well to the Richmond Review’s article titled “China House bid raises questions about farmland use.” Mr. Jones, a member of the Richmond Agricultural Advisory Committee, has taken a firm stand against a problem with Lulu Island Winery’s right to have a small restaurant on its ALR land.

The restaurant, which would take up far more than the space allowed under ALR regulations, would evidently also require parking either on Westminster Highway, where it would be an illegal hazard, or on the farmland, where it would do further damage to agricultural land.

According to the Richmond News in “Land rules stun winery,” the company’s excuse is that it was very ignorant. While Richmond staff may have abetted the ignorance, excusing it would put BC’s farmland protection on a slippery slope indeed. Surely, ignorance of ALR regulations and a city’s bylaws does not justify something so extreme, even if it might inconvenience some people we’d like to welcome (people from China, in this case). I agree with much of what the News has to say about it in its “Asleep at the switch?” editorial, although I’d go further.

Back at the Richmond Review, its website has an opinion poll about this topic (asking “Should Lulu Island Wineries be allowed to host China House for the 2010 Olympics?”) on its home page. With some imagination and overdue problem-solving, the City and the winery actually should be able to find an appropriate way in which China House can happen there, but undoubtedly a “Yes” to the Richmond Review‘s poll question would be taken as agreement that the plan should go ahead in its current unacceptable form. If all else fails, China House should still be able to find an alternative site in Richmond. With that in mind, my answer on the poll is “No.”

Final note: A big thank you!

Thank you, Bill Jones, for bringing this matter to public attention and then reiterating the point in your letter about “serious abuse of rules for non-agricultural use of protected farmlands.”

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4 Comments »

  1. 1
    Miles Smart Says:

    Disclaimer: this is going to sound terribly controversial, but do keep in mind I’m a Richmond based fruit and vegetable grower.

    Although I do understand that it’s a real shame to pave over farmland for the purpose of making a parking lot, let us think through a few things. These people could be shuttled to the winery (let us recall that they are catering to tourists from overseas who may very well not have cars to be parked). This way we could keep any parking lot onsite to a minimal size. Furthermore, even if they didn’t do this, let us remind ourselves that these people make various fruit wines that could prove to be a hit with the Chinese tourists. Our blueberry and raspberry prices need to come up so that we don’t have acres and acres of empty field that no one is using. If there’s lots of empty farmland, it will cause a further erosion of ARL land.
    Better berries and a few parking spots than concrete.

  2. 2
    kewljim Says:

    The suggestion about shuttling is a good example of the imaginative problem solving that should have taken place earlier and can still take place. Besides resolving the major shortage of parking, the shuttle approach could be tied in with a schedule that keeps the throughput at the winery steady and brisk enough.

    I should add that I wish success to Lulu Island Winery, and I’m sure they can achieve it within the ALR regulations.

    Thanks for the input, Miles!

  3. 3
    Vera Smart Says:

    Oh, This is even controversial in our own household. Leave ALR land to farmers, tractors and plants.

  4. 4
    Miles Smart Says:

    Thanks, kewljim. I wish my mother wouldn’t make a mockery of us.


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