Pitt Meadows city hall is coming up with a new plan to develop the North Lougheed Study Area, but it will not need a new approval from the Agricultural Land Commission.
With that news, Mayor Bill Dingwall estimated shovels will be in the ground up to a year earlier. Also, council can proceed with plans knowing they will not be kiboshed in a ALC approval process.
“It takes out that step, and that uncertainty, and so it does provide us with a sense of certainty for this council and the community…” said Dingwall.
Much of the 51 hectare site, located on the north side of the Lougheed Highway between Harris Road and Golden Ears Way, is in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The city already received approval to have it excluded from the reserve for an earlier development, with conditions from the ALC. Tuesday night, council announced the exclusions will still be approved for the same conditions.
With TransLink’s plans for rapid bus service along the Lougheed, and a changing retail market, the city will opt to have high density housing and mixed-use buildings on the site – with commercial at ground level and apartments above. That is a change from the employment lands focus of the past.
“With rapid bus, it provides an opportunity for the city, and for this council, to now consider residential on the north side of the highway,” said Dingwall. “This is an opportune time for us to hopefully address different stock affordability issues.”
Throughout the Metro region there is multi-unit housing and supporting businesses located near transit hubs, including Skytrain stations.
One of the conditions from the ALC includes construction of a road from Harris Road to Golden Ears Way. Earlier estimates of the cost for that road have been $20 million. The road will take congestion off Old Dewdney Trunk Road, and “give it back to farmers,” who frequently travel the route with farm machinery. Developer Smart Centres offered to pay for part of the connector in 2015. There are eight different landowners involved in the project.
The road is a key piece of the project, and Dingwall said it will not only benefit farmers, but anyone needing an east-west route through Pitt Meadows.
Later this month, possibly by Oct. 15, staff will offer more detail of the site development, including a colour-coded site map showing areas for residential, commercial, green zones and mixed buildings.
For example, he said there will likely be medium density residential, to take advantage of views, near the Meadow Gardens Golf Club.
“They will be overlooking a beautiful gold course, and the Golden Ears Mountains in the background.”
He said council wants to make the development one “we are all proud of, as a city.”
“It’s about 125 acres, and we want to get it right.”