Friends of Jackson Farm want more for park

Application to build 30 homes on 102nd Avenue in Maple Ridge.

The District of Maple Ridge acquired the lower portion of Jackson Farm

The District of Maple Ridge acquired the lower portion of Jackson Farm

Maple Ridge should be careful about using public property to direct water away from a development site, in case it sets a precedent for other areas, says Friends of Jackson Farm member Stuart Pledge.

“I suggested they seek some legal advice,” he said Wednesday.

“If someone built a 30-home subdivision beside your property and there was water flowing off your property – would you be in agreement with turning an acre and a half of your land into a conservation area so a developer could build their development?

“I don’t think so.”

That could mean Maple Ridge district assuming responsibility for whatever storm water flows off its land, “and make changes to their land to accommodate their neighbours,” Pledge said.

He made the point after a public hearing Tuesday into an application to build 30 homes at 24462 – 102nd Ave., at the northwest corner of Jackson Farm.

The application requires changing Maple Ridge’s urban boundary, a change already approved by Metro Vancouver, and proposes a buffer zone be built on Jackson Farm to serve as a barrier between the subdivision and what will become a new municipal park.

The developer will pay for creating the treed buffer zone that will re-establish the natural drainage in the area by diverting water flow into Jackson Creek, rather than have it flow over the development site.

Maple Ridge planning staff say the buffer zone will become a feature when Jackson Farm park is formally created and that developers occasionally do such projects on adjacent lands.

Property owner Michael McBride, however, said it was the district’s idea to create the buffer zone and pointed out the water is run off from the district’s land and only flows during the rainy season.

He originally proposed collecting the water in a pipe and bioswale on his property, which would cost him less than the $80,000 it will take to create the buffer zone.

Instead, the district wanted a dry, stream bed feature as an attraction in the park.

“To me, it’s a non-issue. If they don’t want it, we’ll take it away. It’s cheaper for me.

“I actually think it adds to the park and I really thing it’s a nice feature.”

He said the buffer zone can be planted only with short shrubs so viewscapes aren’t disturbed. He added, he’s willing to remove that and just install a collection pipe on his property, pointing out the buffer area was the district’s idea.

He added that population density usually has to come before services and pointed out the area will see another 500 to 600 houses built over the next several years. The property hasn’t been part of Jackson Farm since the 1920s, he said.

Ten people told Maple Ridge council what they think should happen to the three acres of land, while council also received a petition with more than 111 names against the development.

Beryl Eales collected the names in one day at the Kanaka Creek Coffee house.

Former councillor Craig Speirs said Maple Ridge has complete control over how the three-acre parcel should be developed and says the land should be farmed.

“You can grow anything there, literally anything. It’s awesome land, good ground.”

In his submission to council, Speirs says the property can remain agricultural even if it’s within the urban boundary.

Decisions on the property should also be made before council includes the property in the urban boundary, he adds.

“We should ask the question before we increase the value on the property.”

As soon as the property is put into the urban area and removed from the rural zone, “the value goes through the roof.”

In his written submission, Speirs said that constructing homes adjacent to Jackson Farm will degrade that land which will become a municipal park and that the three acres could be a location for a new Albion community hall to replace the old hall on 240th Street, torn down in 2010.

First though, he says a public process has to take place to revise the Albion area plan.

Former mayoralty candidate Craig Ruthven said Wednesday that Albion residents want the natural beauty of Jackson Farm preserved.

“I don’t see why we need to put houses there. They’re going out of their way to rezone it.”

Many questions would need answering, such as who would pay, and many steps would have to be taken, but the site would be “a perfect location for a community centre,” he added.

Maple Ridge acquired the lower part of the old Jackson Farm on 102nd Avenue and 244th Street in 2010-2011 from the owner, mainly the Redmond family, in return for allowing housing on the upper portion on 248th Street.