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Like many Metro Vancouver municipalities, Richmond has seen huge changes in the past decade. With more than 75,000 new residents expected by 2041, many more changes are on the horizon.

Five City of Richmond planners summarized what’s been happening in Richmond and what to expect in the coming years for an audience of more than 200 REALTORS® on October 12.

Here’s a summary of what they said.

Land use contracts

John Hopkins, senior planner, provided an overview of how Richmond has dealt with land use contracts (LUCs). These contracts:

  • have been in place since the 1970s;
  • were registered on the property title;
  • are contractual agreements regulating land use between the city and the property owner; and
  • took precedence over zoning regulations, creating two types of zoning which caused neighbourhood conflicts.

There were 139 LUCs in Richmond, covering 4,007 single family properties, 1,200 residential strata units, 434 rental or cooperative units, and 15 office commercial strata units. In 2014, the BC government amended the Local Government Act to allow the termination of LUCs by June 30, 2024. Richmond is in the process of terminating 93 LUCs to bring properties in line with current city zoning.

Questions? Call 604-204-9926 or email luc@richmond.ca

Arterial road strategy

Edwin Lee, planner, development applications, gave a brief overview of Richmond’s Arterial Road Land Use Policy, which increases density along its arterial roads. The goal is to place developments on arterial road properties in close proximity to commercial services, public amenities, schools, and transit services.

Densification includes:

a)  arterial road townhouses − two to three storey townhouse units;

b)  arterial road row houses − attached dwelling units on fee simple lots (lane access);

c)   arterial road duplex/triplex − two to three attached dwelling units on one lot (road access, no lane);

d)  arterial road compact lot duplex − compact front to back duplex (lane access);

e)  arterial road compact lot coach house − single detached dwelling with a coach house unit above a detached garage (lane access); and

f)    arterial road compact lot single detached − single detached dwelling with or without a secondary suite (lane access).

Here’s the Arterial Road Housing Development Map.

Farmland housing regulations:

Hopkins gave an overview of building permits on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) farmland.




Source: City of Richmond

High capacity ALR land needs to be used to grow food for increasing populations.

With homes in excess of 20,000 square feet being built, the city placed a moratorium on new building permits on ALR land in 2017.

Now, Richmond has house size limits in the AG1 zone and RS1/F and RS1/G zones in the ALR. Maximum floor area can be:

  • 500 square metres (5,382 square feet) if the lot is less than 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres); and
  • 1,000 square metres (10,763 square feet) if the lot is greater than 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres).

There’s a limit of one single family dwelling per lot in the AG1 zone. No secondary dwellings are permitted unless approved through rezoning.

For the larger house size, the property owner must demonstrate:

  • cultural and inter-generational family needs;
  • that the applicant can farm;
  • there’s a need for a larger farm house to accommodate existing and/or anticipated workers on the site; and
  • the site can be used for agricultural production by submitting a detailed farm plan.

For a secondary farmhouse approval:

  • the property must be eight hectares (20 acres) or larger;
  • an agrologist report must demonstrate that full-time farm workers are required to live on the farm; and
  • the secondary farmhouse is subordinate to the principal farm dwelling unit.

The city established a farm home plate in the AG1 zone.

The farm home plate is defined as the portion of the lot, including:

  • the principal dwelling unit;
  • any residential accessory buildings or residential accessory structures;
  •  the driveway;
  • lawns, landscaping, and artificial ponds; and
  • sewerage septic tanks in one contiguous area.

The septic field is not included in the farm home plate.

Read more about farm home plate specifications.

Affordable housing strategy

Richmond adopted an affordable housing strategy in 2007. To date, it’s created more than 1,300 units.

The city is updating this strategy, including:

  • subsidized (non-market) rental housing;
  • low-end market rental housing; and
  • entry-level ownership housing for households with incomes less than $60,000.

Priority groups include families, low-to-moderate income households, persons with disabilities, seniors, and vulnerable populations including homeless residents, women and children experiencing violence, and residents with mental health and addiction problems.

The city conducted widespread consultation and is working with other levels of government, non-profit, and private sectors to achieve its targets.

Funding is through unit and cash contributions by developers. The city provides land, space, or funding and works in partnership with non-profit groups. They also facilitate partnerships between developers and non-profits.

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