‘Add corner lot to Jackson Farm park’

Another three acres could allow space for new community hall, says park crusader

Stuart Pledge and Beryl Eales campaigned successfully to save Jackson Farm as a park.

Stuart Pledge and Beryl Eales campaigned successfully to save Jackson Farm as a park.

The rolling, pastoral Jackson Farm on 102nd Avenue in Albion was saved for a park, thanks to a last-minute deal between the District of Maple Ridge and the land owner.

Now one of the key people who campaigned for its preservation wants to add another three acres to the northwest corner of Jackson Farm, at 102nd Avenue and 244th Street.

Council’s already given first reading to an application to rezone the property for 30 new houses, but Beryl Eales says the district should buy the property.

“We could put a community centre on it. That’s what everybody wants. It’s the perfect place for a community centre. There’s nothing in Albion.”

Albion Hall, on 240th Street, was torn down a year ago, leaving the area with no public gathering place.

Under the agreement worked out between the Albion Community Association and the municipality, Maple Ridge set aside, in cash, the market value of the building and the lot ($315,500) and will apply that (less demolition costs) towards a new Albion hall, whenever and wherever that’s built.

Eales says that money should be used to pay for part of the purchase of the three acres, adding that the property is surrounded on three sides by parkland, either Albion Park or what will be the new municipal park, formerly Jackson Farm. The land was part of the original Jackson Farm, but was subdivided in 1945 for a family member, she pointed out.

The land is outside Maple Ridge’s urban boundary, but has urban land designation. The property could also be part of the wildlife corridor of the Kanaka Creek Regional Park system.

“Anybody in their right mind can see we don’t need 30 homes abutting the green belt.

“I just get passionate about the whole farm. I can’t help it,” she said.

Former councillor Craig Speirs agrees, the land should be used for a community centre, or at least for parking or access to Jackson Farm.

But he’s not hopeful, saying Eales has run into a council “that has a lot of trouble saying no.”

Speirs added, there is a lot of land for housing inside Maple Ridge’s urban area,.

“There’s no justification to make more houses there.”

But he predicted the property will be rezoned and “it will be a sad day for the community.”

Speirs said the district has taken a lot of property tax revenue from Albion and only spent it on infrastructure. “Albion’s becoming quite vibrant. We need to step it up a bit.”

He said the property could be a legacy project and perhaps council could offer the developer increased density elsewhere in return for a deal on the three acres.

“Let’s be creative. Albion deserves a quality, historically significant meeting place.”

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