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Maple Ridge city hall can’t buy Albion ferry site

Maple Ridge council wanted to maintain public access to the Fraser waterfront. - Contributed photo
Maple Ridge council wanted to maintain public access to the Fraser waterfront.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Maple Ridge will have to let the old Albion ferry terminal lot slip through its hands and allow TransLink to sell it off.

Council decided May 5 at a closed meeting that it couldn’t afford to buy the property in order to hold it for a future public use, ensuring public access to the Fraser River.

“I find it really disappointing,” said Coun. Cheryl Ashlie. “I still feel strongly there’s a need for access,” to the riverfront.

TransLink has had the property, which used to be the parking lot for the Albion ferry, on the market for $1.9 million after it no longer needed the property following the opening of Golden Ears Bridge in 2009. The Albion ferry ceased operation when the bridge opened.

One possible use for the lot was as part of the Experience the Fraser project, goal of which is to build a recreational trail on both sides of the Fraser River, from Vancouver to Hope.

Last August, Maple Ridge asked Metro Vancouver parks if it wanted to partner in buying the property for eventual use as a regional park.

But Metro Vancouver parks doesn’t like the site.

The Fraser River flows too fast at that point for easy access to the water, it says. It’s also too far from Kanaka Creek Regional Park and too small to serve as a boat launch facility.

Ashlie led the effort to try to secure the area for the public. She maintains that the Fraser River will increasingly be used for transportation in the Lower Mainland, so waterfront access has to be secured.

“I do think it’s short sighted for them to liquidate it.”

However, the price TransLink wanted was high, without even dealing with possible soil decontamination issues from its previous industrial uses.

“There were just too many unknowns,” Ashlie said.”We just can’t put ourselves and public money at risk on that.”

Still, Ashlie said the district will contact TransLink and ask the agency if it can just hold the property.

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