Ken Stewart will serve another term as president of the Alouette River Management Society. (THE NEWS-files)

Ken Stewart will serve another term as president of the Alouette River Management Society. (THE NEWS-files)

ARMS says it has been ‘cut out’ of public hearing for riverfront subdivision

Conservation group can’t meet with Maple Ridge city staff or offer powerpoint

Alouette River Management Society (ARMS) is being rebuffed by city hall as they attempt to get councillors to vote against a riverfront subdivision.

ARMS has been told they cannot meet with Maple Ridge City Hall staff to ask questions, nor will the group be allowed a power point presentation at an upcoming public hearing about the project.

“We’ve got about 40 questions unanswered,” said ARMS president Ken Stewart.

“We are obviously seriously concerned that we have been cut out of a crucial step of the public hearing process,” he said. “This is just another of the unconventional actions of the council of Maple Ridge to push through an ill-conceived development against the Official Community Plan and the will of the general public.”

His group has opposed the development, saying it is too close to the waterway, in a wildlife corridor, and will set a precedent that could allow future dense development along the waterway.

ARMS executive members have always been able to meet with city officials, he said, but now they have been told all questions must go through CAO Al Horsman.

ARMS also asked for the public hearing to be delayed for 90 days, so it can conduct more research.

Horsman said ARMS cannot meet with staff because “it appears you are still contemplating legal action.”

He said the public hearing date has already been approved by council, and notices sent, so it will not be rescheduled.

Stewart noted Mayor Mike Morden suspended the council delegate to the ARMS board until further notice.

Maple Ridge council had been ready to give final approval to a development that would build 26 homes near the South Alouette River over protests from the group and others in the city. Council voted 4-3 to give third reading, to be followed by final adoption, to rezoning four properties at 12555, 12599, 12516 – 240th St. and at 12511 – 241st St.

The site is 20 acres in size, with most of that in the flood plain. Formerly, it had three residential lots.

The matter came to council for final approval last month, but the city was forced to amend the bylaws, and will now hold another public hearing on June 15.

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge council backtracks on riverfront subdivision approvals

The issue has also been opposed by Katzie First Nation, who say the city has failed to consult them. Because of that, the Kazie have said they will oppose needed approvals by federal and provincial governments.

READ ALSO: Katzie First Nation accuses Maple Ridge of bad faith engagement

The staff report notes the properties have both sewer and water connections are available, making it possible to create parcels with smaller lot sizes than the typical one-acre lots in this zoning.

“The justification for reduced parcel sizes is due to the voluntary dedication of developable area for park purposes. After first reading was granted, an environmental assessment of the qualitative value of these areas proposed for dedication has been prepared by a qualified professional,” says the report.

The development has also been opposed by the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C., and numerous residents, including many from nearby Fern Crescent.

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