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Developer of Pitt Meadows business park wants tolls reduced

The first phase of the Golden Ears Business Centre features 75,000 square feet of light industrial space, with the second phase to add 100,000 sq. ft.  - Colleen Flanagan/The News
The first phase of the Golden Ears Business Centre features 75,000 square feet of light industrial space, with the second phase to add 100,000 sq. ft.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

The marketer for a Pitt Meadows industrial park that could become one of the largest in B.C. wants tolls reduced on the Golden Ears Bridge to help drive business to the new development.

Chris MacCauley, a realtor with Colliers International, is in charge of leasing out the Golden Ears Business Centre, an Onni development at the southern end of Harris Road.

The final touches are being put on the first phase of the development, with tenants set to begin moving in next month. The first phase features 75,000 square feet of light industrial space, with the second phase to add 100,000 sq. ft.

The location is ideal for an industrial park, says MacCauley. Not only is it close to railway and highways, but it is at the centre of an untapped employee base, thanks to a dearth of local jobs.

There’s only one problem.

“The tolls on the bridge are the only issue we have,” MacCauley says. “Companies that have their trucks coming and going all day look at that and go to Campbell Heights [in South Surrey] instead, where they don’t have to pay any tolls.”

Reducing or eliminating the tolls would help spur business and trade in Pitt Meadows, he said.

“I thought the whole idea was to open up the north side of the Fraser,” said MacCauley.

Ken Hardie of TransLink, however, says the tolls aren’t going anywhere, at least not for the foreseeable future, and the regional transit authority has no plans to reduce them.

“That revenue is helping pay for the bridge,” said Hardie. “That price takes into account their savings in gas and time.”

Currently, big rig trucks are charged between $8.40 and $9.55 for every peak hour trip they make over the bridge.

TransLink recently instituted a 30 per cent fare reduction for off-peak travel. Hardie also noted the new Port Mann Bridge will also be tolled once it is completed in 2012.

“We know the bridge saves time, and time is money,” Hardie said.

In all, Onni owns 92 acres of land at the south end of Harris Road, capable supporting more than 1.5 million square feet of light industrial space, making it the second largest development of its kind in B.C.

That will take at least five to 10 years to build, says MacCauley, and only if demand warrants it.

Construction on Phase 2 is expected to begin this summer, and continue until the end of the year, adding 100,000 square feet of space.

MacCauley estimated the development could generate an average of 100 jobs for 100,000 square-feet of space built.

“Obviously, that depends on the type of business going in there,” he said.

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