Albion population density bonusing popular

Money can be used to pay for parks and trails or possibly fund a community hall.

It’s been a controversial project, but staff say the Albion amenity program that allows  builders to increase the population density of their projects is working well.

Of 16 applications in the Albion area east of 240th Street, eight are opting to increase the density, or number of units in the new housing developments, to the next level beyond what has been established in existing zoning.

In return for doing so, developers pay the district $3,100 per extra lot.

The density bonusing program came into being in October.

So far, that’s worked out to an extra 188 lots, resulting in a potential $583,000 contribution to the Albion amenity fund, once applications are complete and money is deposited into the fund.

That money can be used to pay for parks and trails or possibly an Albion community hall, in order to improve services in an area that is gaining population density.

“The program is being well received by the local development industry and is being considered by staff to be a success,” planning manager Jim Charlebois said in a June report.

Coun. Cheryl Ashlie wanted the community to have a say in how the fund will be spent.

The district could create a process to determine that, said public works general manager Frank Quinn.

The density-bonusing program is optional and clear. Developers can follow the existing density or opt for the next level of density and pay $3,100 per extra lot.

Coun. Corisa Bell wanted to expand the program across the District of Maple Ridge, pointing out other cities have had such programs for 30 years. How much is the taxpayer losing by delaying such a move, she asked.

Bell suggested Silver Valley be considered as the next location.

Ashlie, though, said Maple Ridge considered all the options for a population density bonusing program last year, just before it approved the Albion amenity program.

“It’s just frustrating, to me, that we keep wanting to redo work that we’ve already done.

“We just have to remember the reports we’ve been given.”