Editor, The News:
I was very disappointed to read your recent article about the Hammond Cedar mill property and the lack of vision and obvious bias demonstrated by Maple Ridge staff on the future of the site.
I am no expert in timber processing and marketing, but I knew with certainty when I moved to Hammond 15 years ago that the mill would not be forever.
The writing has been on the wall for some time that Hammond Cedar would eventually close, be it pressure due to timber supply, market prices or land values.
It’s simply not acceptable for the city to say it did not plan for it’s closing because it didn’t know.
I believe its mind was already made up.
In your short article, I counted no less than eight instances of obvious bias on the part of the city for keeping the land fully industrial and not reconsidering the land use.
I was one of the people interviewed and videoed by city staff during the Hammond area plan process in 2017. During that interview, I spoke about what I called ‘the elephant in the room’, that being the Hammond mill and the fact it was not even being considered in the Hammond planning process.
At that time, I strongly suggested the mill property should be part of the area plan process. My advice and input was ignored.
Currently, lower Hammond has tilt-up concrete industrial to our northwest, with much more to come to our southwest.
Currently being built is a concrete mini-warehouse on lower Hammond’s north boundary, a project that was not supported by many area residents.
I expect the city’s preference now would likely be to see more unimaginative tilt-up concrete industrial on the Hammond mill site.
This approach would completely encircle lower Hammond in industrial use and tall concrete walls, leaving one to wonder what the real long-term vision is for lower Hammond?
Add to this the fact that hotel-size houses with no historical character are now being built in our neighbourhood, and one has to wonder what the purpose of the 2017 area plan was and if it has any teeth?
In your article, city staff explained that changing land use would be too difficult and time-consuming, saying ‘city staff would prefer the site remain for industrial use.’
The Hammond mill site represents a rare planning opportunity to creatively redevelop a prime, large property on the Fraser River.
I am not suggesting that it ultimately does not have an industrial or commercial component. What I am saying is that Maple Ridge and Hammond residents deserve better than wasting this land on unimaginative, 1970s style pre-determined planning.
Residents’ input should be legitimately considered.
We need to wake up and see the so-called ‘public input process’ for what it is – a sham, created to give residents the illusion of meaningful input, while planners go ahead with their own pre-determined ideas of what is best for our community.