Fraser Basin Council

To engage key professionals and decision makers in the lower Fraser Valley in dialogues about sustainability practices.

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Metro Vancouver Residents Value Local Farmland

With some of the most expensive real estate in the country it may be no surprise that Vancouverites know the value of a good piece of housing real estate. But what about farmland? Do we care as much about local farmland? According to recent research completed by the Fraser Basin Council and SFU Public Policy Program we love our local farmland a whole lot – valuing local farmland at approximately $58,000/acre. This is an astonishing figure on its own and even more so when you consider the market value of farm product sales is just $5,750/acre. And why do people value our farmland so much? Because we love locally produced food.

Of respondents to a mail out survey, 91% said local food production was their primary reason for the value they placed on farmland. Green space was the next most popular reason for the high value of farmland with 69% choosing this as one of their top three reasons, followed by provision of wildlife habitat at 51%. Respondents were asked how much they would pay to preserve 1000 acres of farmland. The $58,000/acre figure was calculated by multiplying the household value by the number of households in Metro Vancouver.

The researchers were surprised by the overwhelming support for local food production. Yet this is not entirely surprising given the growing interest in farmers markets, urban agriculture, and the 100 Mile Diet. Noting the development pressures in Metro Vancouver, the project partners undertook the research with the goal of providing another measurement tool for land use planners and decision makers. The research results are also meant to stimulate discussion among Metro Vancouverites and highlight the need for further research into the public value of urban developed land. While the absolute numerical value can be debated, it is clear that for a majority of Metro Vancouverites, the publicvalue of local farmland is much greater than the private/marketvalue currently used to value it.

Since publishing the report, Fraser Basin Council has been actively getting the word out, presenting the results to local, regional and federal government ministries. The Fraser Basin Council has also incorporated this research into their Sustainability Snapshot, an annual accounting of sustainability progress in communities of the Fraser Basin.

The study was commissioned by the Fraser Basin Council in collaboration with the Public Policy Program of Simon Fraser University. Funding for the research was provided by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC, the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, and by a $20,000 grant from the Real Estate Foundation of BC. This project demonstrated a fit under our research mandate to make land use knowledge and practice in BC a model for the world.