Councillors want progress on Albion development

Maple Ridge will go to ALC with newest conceptual plan

Maple Ridge council is again planning development of the Albion flats, with several politicians expressing frustration at the decades-long delays.

The plan is to create mixed employment uses – commercial, light industrial and office developments, with some residential component. The Albion flats are to the southeast of Jim Robson Way, along the Lougheed Highway to 240th Street.

It is a 133-hectare site that houses the Planet Ice arena complex and sports fields.

After hearing a lengthy staff report on July 23, council told staff to prepare a final concept plan, and arrange a meeting with the Agricultural Land Commission to discuss a block exclusion from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Several expressed impatience at the lack of progress on the development, and both councillors Judy Dueck and Gordy Robson spoke against further public consultation at this time, noting the public has been involved dating back to 2010, and the issue has been discussed in every civic election since.

“It’s not because I don’t appreciate the public’s opinion, but I think we know what the public’s opinion is,” said Dueck, Thursday.

She favours getting a new plan in front of the ALC for approval.

“If they say no, we need to put this to bed once and for all, because I have been dealing with this topic for too long, as has staff.”

Robson gave a “ditto” endorsement of her comments.

“We have been consulting for 20 years on this,” he said.

Dueck said in an interview she hopes the ALC will still allow the development – with the condition that drainage issues on the west side of Jim Robson Way be addressed to allow that property to be farmed, as it ruled in the past.

She sees commercial and retail opportunities, as the eastern neighbourhoods of the city continue to develop. “The whole Albion area is screaming for places to go,” said Dueck. “I hope we can get on with it.”

Dueck said the plan should be in place by the end of the current council term. Then the market will dictate progress on the Albion flats.

“We just zone things – we can’t make people build things, but we can have the land ready.”

At the July meeting, Mayor Mike Morden said the development should have commercial at ground level, “jobs on the ground,” and residential above only.

“My preference is for mixed, not industrial,” he said, adding the market will ultimately drive the development.

“We are going to be told what the public is going to want, what the industry is going to want.”

Morden acknowledged city hall “went through massive charette work” to get public input, but he would still like to put the latest concept before the public.

Coun. Kiersten Duncan noted the area is a liquefaction zone, with 73 per cent of the area considered high hazard in an earthquake, and she wanted council to get more information about the danger this presents to the public.

“I have serious concerns about that,” she said.

There are 18 private land owners who would be involved in a block exclusion from the ALR, and so far 10 have provided written support for development. Council has been working to engage with the remaining property owners.

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