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Why use parkland for Maple Ridge development?
Stuart Pledge accepts that a three-acre chunk of land next to the northwest corner of Jackson Farm park will have 30 homes built on it. But he doesn’t like the idea of using public land next to it for storm water management and as a conservation area.
The public hasn’t even had its say on how Jackson farm will look when it’s turned into a park, he adds.
Maple Ridge acquired the lower part of the old Jackson Farm on 102nd Avenue and 244th Street in 2010-2011 from the owner, mainly the Redmond family, in return for allowing housing on the upper portion on 248th Street.
“There’s no determination yet exactly how that landscape [in lower Jackson Farm] will be used,” Pledge said.
He was part of the Friends of Jackson Farm group which campaigned a few years ago to save the historic farm and its rolling landscape, which was slated for development.
The current application, from a different owner, Michael McBride, is for rezoning to allow for 30 homes.
Usually, a developer uses its own land when conservation areas are required for developments. But a map included with the application shows the conservation area, with tall conifers, in what will be the future Jackson farm park.
“Which is a radical departure from what is there now.”
Such a plan values conservation but not the heritage value and the open spaces of the old farm, he pointed out.
Council sent the application to public hearing on Tuesday.
Pledge even wonders if council is aware of that part of the proposal.
According to a staff report, the conservation area will direct water from Jackson farm to Jackson Creek, rather than across the development site during heavy rains, and will re-establish a natural drainage area. The area, in the northwest corner of Jackson farm also will have several native tree species planted.
But Pledge says parkland should not be used to buffer the development.
“If this was privately owned property, there wouldn’t be any changes made to the property, so why are they doing it to publicly owned land?” Pledge asked.
“The district is giving them a free ride. It’s a gift from the public to the developer when they do this.”
However, planning director Christine Carter pointed out the developer is doing the work to divert water from the municipality’s Jackson farm property that would flow on to the housing site. Usually, that water would be captured from a pipe and the district would have to manage the water.
Instead, the developer’s proposal will manage that storm water and in the process create a treed area surrounding the stream, which would usually only flow during the rainy season.
“The way we look at it, it’s creating a real nice feature in what will be a park,” Carter said.
Developers do work on adjacent properties from time to time, she added.
Mayor Ernie Daykin pointed out the proposal still needs third reading after public hearing. “My mind is not made up.”
But he pointed out the property has long been separated from Jackson farm.