Soil Management in the Agricultural Land Reserve
The City of Richmond's continued commitment to protect lands within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) for future agricultural viability supports Council's Strategic Plan 2018-2022 Strategy #2 - A Sustainable and Environmentally Conscious City:
"Environmentally conscious decision-making that demonstrates leadership in implementing innovative, sustainable practices and supports the City's unique biodiversity and island ecology.
2.3. Increase emphasis on local food systems, urban agriculture and organic farming."
Soil is an important natural resource in Richmond. Approximately 4,993 hectares (12,338 acres) of the City's land base - equal to 39% - is located within the ALR. This percentage of farmland requires the City to carefully manage growth, while protecting some of the most productive agricultural lands within British Columbia (BC).
Roles in Regulating Land in the ALR
City of Richmond
Richmond City Council enacted Soil Removal and Fill Deposit Regulation Bylaw No. 8094 (the "Bylaw") to regulate soil removal and fill deposition for properties within the ALR. The Bylaw is based on provincial legislation that allows local government to regulate the deposit and removal of soil. Such regulation includes enforcement measures based on the Bylaw and unless otherwise exempted as per legislation, allows local government to have shared oversight for vetting and approving applications and issuing permits related to soil deposition and removal.
The City's application process is overseen by the Community Bylaw Department. The Bylaw Department is also tasked with responding to public complaints and proactively monitoring lands within the ALR. The mandate of the department is to ensure regulatory compliance through education, mediation, progressive enforcement and prosecution.
Agricultural Land Commission
The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) is responsible for regulating activity on agricultural lands throughout BC. The ALC derives its authority from the following:
Joint Jurisdiction of the City and ALC
No person is allowed to remove soil or deposit fill on any properties located within the ALR except in accordance with the Bylaw, the ALC Act and ALR Regulation.
Consequently, a property owner (or an owner's designated agent) must first obtain a permit from the City when the proposed activity does not qualify for an exemption as per the Bylaw or provincial legislation. In addition, a permit may be required when the activity is associated with construction of a single family residence or other structure and the proposed soil removal from a property and/or deposit onto a property exceeds 0.1 hectares in total area.
Soil Removal and Fill Deposit Application
Soil Removal and Fill Deposit Application Submission Process
The first step in the application process is to submit a completed Schedule 'C' Soil Removal / Fill Deposit application. The completed application form must be accompanied with a Certificate of Title and non-refundable application fee ($600). A Corporate Registry must be provided if the registered owner identifies as a company.
Property owners appointing a representative to act on their behalf must also complete and sign a Letter of Authorization (if such information is not provided on their application). A Building Site Plan may be required when the proposed fill deposition or soil deposition is associated with residential construction on a property within the ALR.
In addition, the property owner or agent may be required to register for a BCeID and complete an online application through the ALC's Application Portal. Additional fees payable to the ALC may apply.
For a more detailed outline of the application process, please refer to the City's Permit Requirements Checklist.
Application Review Process
Following receipt of all required documentation as noted within the checklist, City staff may require additional information to help clarify and/or support an application. Such information may include, but not be limited to, an agrologist report, farm plan, geotechnical report, drainage plan, and topographical survey.
City staff will undertake a thorough review process of each application and where required by provincial legislation, the Bylaw, and/or policy, an application may be subject to successive review and/or decision by the following authorities:
- Food Security & Agricultural Advisory Committee (FSAAC) *webpage under construction*
- General Purposes Committee
- City Council
Agricultural and Environmental Considerations
Please refer to the documents linked below as other City strategies, policies or bylaws may apply to your application:
- Riparian Management Areas - Bulletin Info 23
- Watercourse Protection and Crossing Bylaw No. 8441
- Environmentally Sensitive Areas Management Strategy
- Invasive Species Action Plan
- Tree Protection Bulletin
- Agricultural Viability Strategy
Soil Inquiries & Complaints
To inquire about the Bylaw, the soil deposit/removal application process, other soil related matters or to report unauthorized soil removal or fill deposition on properties within the ALR, please contact the Community Bylaw Department at 604-276-4345 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.