Maple Ridge council will consider final approval for a controversial riverfront subdivision Tuesday evening, and a local conservation group is considering legal action.
Most of the site is in the flood plain, along the South Alouette River.
Two years ago, in April 2019, council moved ahead with the 26-home subdivision, when it gave third reading to rezone four properties, covering 20 acres, at 12555, 12599, 12516-240th St. and 12511-241st St.
Council allowed the plan to proceed, even after a three-hour public hearing that almost entirely blasted the project. Those who spoke against it outnumbered those in favour 26-1, according to the meeting minutes.
The Alouette River Management Society (ARMS) has stated it would take legal action to stop the project. President Ken Stewart said the conservation group has raised $36,000 in a legal fund. In November of 2019 they launched a Save Our Salmon (SOS) campaign to build the legal fund.
He and John Dale, a fellow ARMS director, walked the site on Monday. There is debris from three houses that have been demolished, and fences around the sites to be developed.
Stewart, a former city councillor and MLA, said the proposal is poor planning, because it is allowing dense construction in a flood plain. There is also a bridge planned to cross the river at 240th Street, and a busy road will eventually bisect the new development, then meet with Fern Crescent.
His main argument is environmental: “We strongly believe this kind of development shouldn’t happen on a flood plain,” he said, saying it could change the hydrology of the river, and result in a loss of habitat.
Although city councillors have said there are other waterfront properties in Maple Ridge, he said there is nothing comparable to this in the city
What’s more, Dale said under existing regulations, many of the homes along the waterfront – including his own – would not be allowed.
Rather than allow quarter-acre lots, he said the development should have been kept to current standards which would have allow seven or eight houses on the site at a maximum.
ARMS is aware other developers are watching the approval process, and Stewart said this could be the first of many developments along the banks of the South Alouette.
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