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ALR land ‘option of last resort’ for industrial growing room

The Pelton property is last on the list of recommended strategies to find another 200 acres of industrial land, and it’s a risky one, but a decision has to be made on whether Maple Ridge wants to go there.

The property is located in the northwest corner of Maple Ridge, at 128th Avenue and 203rd Street, much of it the site a former tree nursery.

The 250-acre site is one of eight areas council is considering as it tries to find more space for industrial development so it can broaden its tax base and lighten the load on homeowners.

“It’s something council has to make a decision on,” said public works general manager Frank Quinn.

The area isn’t among six suggestions for finding more industrial land included in the executive summary of the Commercial and Industrial Strategy 2012-2042.

But it is listed last among the eight strategies – including the initial six – at the back of the report.

Input from stakeholders during the consultation process – along with the district’s official community plan, which says future employment lands be considered for flat areas, outside the urban boundary, near transportation routes – led to the area to being included in the list of eight options, as a long-term project.

Council didn’t add the area to the list.

“They didn’t direct that we put it up there,” Quinn said.

Rather, staff added to the list based on it being mentioned in the strategy, the stakeholders and the OCP.

Much of that land had already been sought for exclusion from the Agricultural Land Reserve in 2010. The controversial application was refused by the land commission, accompanied by strong comments.

“That’s how the original application was supported because it was in the OCP.”

“If they want to keep it in play, they will. If they don’t, then they won’t.”

However, the industrial strategy prepared by G.P. Rollo and Associates also notes that excluding farmland to create industrial land should be “an option of last resort.”

Council has discussed four of the eight locations, including the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure lands on Lougheed Highway and Kanaka Way, and is set to discuss the rest, including the ALR land, on Jan. 26.

Nothing’s been decided.

“It’s going to be a contentious issue and an issue that will raise no shortage of debate on either side,” Daykin said.

If council opts to proceed with another exclusion application for the Pelton area, that doesn’t mean council giving up on the other seven locations around the district, where it’s trying to shoe horn in pockets for job creation activities.

“In my opinion, we don’t fill in the rest with houses. What we need are commercial and employment lands so that people can have the opportunity to work in the community,” Daykin said.

“There’s going to be lots of opportunity for people to let us know how they feel.”

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