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Opinion: Burnaby farm next to industrial park on sale for $7.3M. What’s its future?

Could a developer look to pave this over?
farm north fraser way
It’s nearly nine acres of farmland at 7518 North Fraser Way, just steps from an industrial park.

As sales activity has skyrocketed for residential and commercial properties in Burnaby, there’s one listing right now that I’m very curious about.

It’s nearly nine acres of farmland at 7518 North Fraser Way, just steps from an industrial park.

It’s been on sale for nearly a year and is priced at $7.3 million. I mention this because farming is a tough business and getting tougher all of the time. Recently, nearby Hop On Farms on Marine Drive closed down after 50 years as the family that owned it said their parents were retiring.

The North Fraser Way farm in Big Bend being so close to an industrial/business park must be tempting for someone to buy and develop. The obstacle, of course, is that it is in the Agricultural Land Reserve. Getting something pulled out of the ALR is not easy, or perhaps it’s actually impossible right now. But that doesn’t mean a developer won’t be tempted to try, although they would likely fear a massive campaign of people fighting it to save good farmland in a time of food insecurity.  

My guess is that the long shot of pulling this out of the ALR and the economics of farming are why the property has languished on the market for 334 days and counting.

The farm has 2,000-square-foot house on it that was built in 1968, but the listing says there is potential to build a new 5,381-sq-ft house.

“The surrounding area is industrial and this could be an excellent investment opportunity,” reads the listing.

I doubt the use of the word “investment” is meant as investing in farming.

COMMERCIAL MARKET HOT

Sales activity in the Lower Mainland’s commercial real estate market reached the second-highest annual total on record in 2021, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). 

And Burnaby is one of the cities leading the way in sales in four different categories.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, Burnaby saw $655 million in commercial properties – a $532M jump from the third quarter.

Burnaby saw 106 office and retail property sales, 44 industrial sites, one multi-family property and 11 commercial land sales. The commercial land sales along sold for nearly $500 million.

There were 2,659 commercial real estate sales in the Lower Mainland in 2021, a 65.3 per cent increase from the 1,609 sales in 2020, according to data from Commercial Edge, a commercial real estate system operated by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). 

 Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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