Jackson Farm needs to take place in planning lineup

Public will be consulted on 15 acres, to be city's largest park.

It’s going to be a long process but what should emerge is a Jackson Farm park that will draw visitors from beyond Maple Ridge.

Recreation staff told council at the Nov. 3 workshop that the area at 102nd Avenue and Jackson Road must go through the master planning process.

That requires hiring a consultant, who will determine how best to engage the public and getting their feedback on what they want to see for the location.

The City of Maple Ridge acquired the park from developers in 2010 in exchange for allowing subdivision on land kitty corner to the park on 248th Street.

At 15 acres, it will be the largest park in the city, with sweeping views of pastoral land, evoking its farming past.

Other existing parks, such as Whonnock Lake Park, Albion Park, and Maple Ridge Fairgrounds, have gone through the same process.

Once a consultant has been chosen, an inventory of the site takes place. That will look at natural features, watercourse, trees and the site’s history.

Feedback from the public will consist of public meetings and surveys and focus groups and include the opinions of stakeholders.

Once opinions have been gathered, guiding statements will be written to guide development followed by the writing of a draft plan.

With a draft plan in place, the public again will have its say before the concept goes to council for approval.

According to staff, Maple Ridge residents love their parks, with 87 per cent using them.

However, money remains an issue for the park.

Funds still haven’t been allocated in the city’s capital program, which allots spending priorities.

Recreation general manager Kelly Swift said Jackson Farm has been added to the park’s master plan because of the strong public interest in the site.

The group Friends of Jackson Farm fought to preserve it from development.