A new proposal for transportation ministry lands straddling Lougheed Highway and the Haney Bypass would have more homes and less commercial space than one turned down by council earlier this year and could be the first to contribute to a recreation amenity program.
In April, council rejected a proposal by a developer to build 285 townhouses and single family homes, plus 38,000 sq. feet of shopping space at the eastern entrance to downtown on Lougheed Highway.
Staff said then, and council agreed, that the amount of shopping space in that proposal could hurt the downtown’s commercial core.
The plan included a large grocery store.
Now, a new developer has made another offer for developing the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure land, which for many years has been repeatedly occupied by homeless camps.
Polygon Development is proposing to reduce the size of the commercial area by 75 per cent and increase the total number of housing units to 450 on the 52-acre site that borders both sides of Lougheed Highway, just up from Kanaka Way, as well as
Part of that total includes building about 30 rental apartments on Lougheed Highway, and contributing to Maple Ridge’s new community amenity program. That’s currently being written up and will see developers pay the city a percentage of the increase in property value that results when development occurs. That money would be for recreation features for the area.
That could work out to be about a million dollars.
“Which is quite significant,” said Coun. Tyler Shymkiw.
Although the community amenity program is not yet in place, Polygon is volunteering to pay the levy in return for an increase in density in part of the project.
A network of trails in the heavily wooded area along with a trailhead pavilion, restoration of some stream areas, a three-hectare conservation area and a parking lot and public art in the commercial area are other features.
Council looked at the proposal on Monday at a committee meeting before sending the proposal to its regular meeting.
Shymkiw liked the proposal, although doesn’t know how council will respond to the application.
“This is a builder which has a history of being a good community partner.”
While council hasn’t yet approved the amenity program, it is considering some kind of split in which such fees are shared between the immediate neighbourhood and the entire city.
The property, still owned by the B.C. Transportation Financing Authority, initially was identified for use as commercial industrial, but a recent study said the steep slopes and layout mean it was unsuitable for use as a business park.
A traffic study on the possible effects of more housing in the area will be done by Polygon. Maple Ridge council has been pushing the transportation ministry to widen the bypass to four lanes and upgrade the intersections at both ends of the Haney Bypass, 222nd Street and Kanaka Way.