Planting the Seeds of Revolution in Vancouver BC
“Essentially urban farming right now is illegal,” he says. “There’s no business license designation for it in the city and you can’t sell anything or deliver a service without having a business license.”
By Luke Brocki
June 6, 2011
But today’s farmers and their allies don’t want to wait that long and are pushing for more leadership from City Hall. Among them is Arzeena Hamir, agronomist, co-ordinator of the Richmond Food Security Society and long a thorn in the side of local government officials and land use authorities.
“It is still not legal for you to grow and sell your products within Vancouver city limits. A backyard farm, or an empty lot farm, is not zoned for that in Vancouver. You can grow food for yourself, but as soon as you start brining in an economic component into it, you’re in that grey area. The climate at city hall is such right now that I think staff has been told to look the other way, which is great, because you won’t see anyone being prosecuted for farming. Unless someone complains.”
Some people do complain, but would-be urban farmers have bigger problems. Especially troubling is their limited access to land and to lending.
“Land prices are so inflated in Vancouver. You cannot commercially farm using our land prices. Even Richmond is about half a million an acre and that’s for farmland. You cannot go to a bank to ask for a loan to start a vegetable farm at half a million an acre. We need to look at food growing in the city as not just a cool thing, but as a public amenity, something beneficial that we want to see. In order to have that happen with the land prices the way that they are, and the pressure on land use, there needs to be some sort of help.