ARMS against riverfront homes

Public hearing on plans in Maple Ridge

A proposal to put in 26 new homes near the South Alouette River has drawn the opposition of the Alouette River Management Society, which is concerned about flooding, along with the impact of a higher density housing development.

Maple Ridge council is to hear concerns from the river group at a public hearing Tuesday.

The applicant, Don Bowins, is seeking rezoning for four properties at 12555, 12599, 12516 – 240th street and at 12511 – 241st St.

Total area of the properties is 20 acres, with most of that in the flood plain.

In return for dedicating as park the three acres of property on the north side of the river, the developer is proposing to create smaller lot sizes than usually found in the RS-2 suburban residential zone.

The project is located outside Maple Ridge’s urban area boundary. It is in an area where a new crossing of the South Alouette River is being considered.

A staff report says the project would be integrated with site preparations for the bridge.

The report also notes that the consultants with Northwest Hydraulics Consulting have found that placement of fill on the site for flood construction purposes “would have very minimal impact.”

The consultant also found that additional filling for the new bridge at 240th Street “will not result in a measurable change to the predicted flood profile of the [South] Alouette River.”

The Alouette River Management Society, however, contends that key flood events haven’t been considered and cites two studies that predict higher flood levels than those cited by the applicant.

The group also said that the full impact of a new bridge isn’t yet known, because it hasn’t been built yet.

As well, it says that lower development housing densities along the banks of the river serve to protect the riparian areas.

“Low-density zones in sensitive areas and higher densities as development moves away from such, is one of the few protections that the river has,” ARMS president Cheryl Ashlie said in a nine-page submission to council.

The group also challenges the consultant’s report that says the development would have minimal impact on the river flow and is calling for a complete environmental impact assessment.

Ashlie said such a development could be precedent setting.

“And at a minimum, we do not believe you should be putting future homeowners at risk when it is clear there is still risk involved in developing in the flood plain …”

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