LETTER: Langley and other communities hit hard by ALR changes

The changes won’t stop mega mansions but will hurt many landowners, a local man argues.

Dear Editor,

NPD government’s Bill 52 – Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, may have caused hundreds of renters of mobile homes in Langley and other areas of the Lower Mainland to face evictions notices this year. Along with losses in the millions of dollars to homeowners who had applied for their building permits well before the new law passed.

Currently in Langley and other cities and townships there are bylaws that allow for temporary mobile home’s for farm workers on ALR. For decade farmers have rented these mobile homes to non-farm workers as a source of income. The new law that was put in place on Feb. 22 states that a second dwelling including a mobile home is not allowed on ALR Land. Every year the homeowners must renew their mobile home permit.

What is going to happen this year when they try to renew? City officials do not have any answers. They refuse to issue new building permits on properties with the mobile home until it is removed.

Homeowners wishing to build a new house that is not in accordance with the new law have had their permits now rejected because of the clause that essentially states that the new project must be already under construction. These homeowners are essentially losing all the fees to have had the project designed and engineered as well of the cost of preparing their properties for construction. It was left to city planning departments and how quickly they could issue permits before the new law passed. One owner missed out on getting their permit by two days because the plan reviewer in charge of their file was on vacation. Some owners have spent hundreds of thousands pre-loading their properties for several years, which has essentially already destroyed the farmland. Some have even had to construct bridges across rivers to get to their build-able area. All of this pre-construction was approved by the cities. They and all of it is now for nothing. A class action lawsuit is pending.

There are also major issue’s with the new law when if comes to the size of the homes. It puts a cap of 5,400 sq. ft. for the main, upper and garage areas. But there are no caps on exterior covered spaces, double height ceilings, accessory buildings or barns. Years ago Surrey had a similar bylaw without these caps and home owners would circumvent the law by building massive double heights ceilings, exterior covered spaces and then just fill them in later illegally.

There is no way to enforce the illegal conversion of these areas as cities rely on aerial photos of buildings and are only sent to investigate if neighbours complain. The mega mansion will continue as there as so many was for homeowners to circumvent the laws.

Everyone that has been affected by this law are all in agreement. It has been introduced and implemented horribly, and the NDP never consulted with the farmers and cities that it would effect.

Christophe Vaissade, Langley

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