Maple Ridge council wants to keep the Albion Industrial Area available for just that – industry and jobs.
Council approved two statements at its workshop Monday, that the Albion Industrial Area is a “key” location and that staff keep working with businesses to improve it.
After surveying the property owners and business owners and hearing their views at a January open house, city staff found that the most pressing issue is an easier way for motorists to get in and out of the area, which is south of Lougheed Highway and east of Kanaka Creek.
Currently, there’s only a right-turn only entrance and exit at Tamarack Lane, with the only full intersection at 240th Street.
“People were interested to see better access to the Albion Industrial Area,” said Bruce Livingston, the city’s business retention officer.
The city tried to address that by offering, for discussion only, three possible locations for an overpass to the Albion Industrial Area – at Tamarack Lane, at 105th Avenue and at 240th Street. But determining the best location would require extensive engineering study.
While many business owners liked the ideas, they were worried about costs and the amount of land needed to build such an overpass.
After improving road access, businesses were most worried about drainage, floods and dikes. The Albion Industrial Area is within the Fraser River floodplain.
The cost of putting up a new building on elevations that will withstand flood waters was another concern.
After that, businesses and property owners wondered why they were paying taxes and getting little back from the city for the ragged-looking area.
People also wanted more police patrols, better lighting and tree trimming.
The city’s main consultation took place in January at an open house that drew 39 out of 102 invitees.
That led Coun. Craig Speirs to ask for feedback from more businesses as the city works on its plans for the area.
According to a staff report, the Albion Industrial Area is comprised of 160 acres, holding 72 different properties, owned by 52 owners. About 1,000 people work on the other side of the tracks and about half of the land has been developed.
Speirs added that the city focus is on filling the remaining property in the area before looking elsewhere for more industrial space.
Business owners also wanted clarity from the city on its long-term plans. Some were worried that allowing residential development along the waterfront would price industrial operators out of the market.
However, only two businesses favoured changing zoning to allow residential development, while there was a “strong desire to see the area remain industrial.”
Business people were worried that if they got priced out of Albion, there would be no other place to go in Maple Ridge.
The motions passed Monday reject any future residential use.
The area also includes the Kingfishers Bar and Grill restaurant, but the M3 zoning allows restaurant operations, staff pointed out to council.
Livingstone will meet with all property owners or businesses and prepare a final report by year’s end.
Coun. Gordy Robson asked if a business improvement association could be created, as happened successfully for the downtown. In exchange for a property levy, an association could use a variety of strategies to improve the area.
Coun. Corisa Bell supported that, saying there’s an appetite for such an entity.
Maple Ridge’s Commercial Industrial Strategy says Maple Ridge will need about another 200 acres for industry by 2040.