Mall developer proposes land swap in Albion flats

Smart Centres wants to switch its land on west side of 105th Avenue and Lougheed with district land on east side

Smart Centres has suggested a land exchange in Albion flats that could see the District of Maple Ridge take ownership of the development company’s 20 acres on the west side of 105th Avenue.

Smart Centres would receive land on the east side, currently the location of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Agricultural Fair Association’s Country Fest.

Smart Centres currently owns 20 acres on the west side of 105th Avenue, fronting Lougheed Highway, and 10 acres on the east side, also along the highway.

Combining that land with additional land from the district could give the company the space it needs for a shopping centre in the east Maple Ridge area.

The Agricultural Land Commission told council in November that it doesn’t favour removal of property on the west side of 105th Avenue, from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

That’s caused Smart Centres to step back and consider those comments, said Dave Major, of Smart Centres.

“We believe that by working with your staff, we can come up with a plan that satisfies all concerned stake holders and delivers a range of benefits to the community district, our neighbours, the district, local shoppers, fairground users and Smart Centres itself, while still meeting the objectives of the ALC.”

Major said Smart Centres is willing to discuss what benefits could form an exchange, including assessing drainage improvements to the land west of 105th and costs of relocating the fairground facilities.

He also said Smart Centres has had preliminary talks with the fair association, the Royal Canadian Air Cadets Coronation Squadron 583 and the Ridge Meadows Home Show.

“We are committed to working with your staff and outside agencies, as they see fit, to ensure we can break ground on a first class shopping centre in the very near future, as we hear, as no doubt you do as well, that shopping and jobs continue to be a great issue here in Maple Ridge.”

Smart Centres contacted fair association manager Lorraine Bates last week and asked questions about the group’s use of the 17 acres that it leases from the district, directly south of Planet Ice arena.

Bates couldn’t comment because the board has not yet discussed the issue.

However, the fair uses the arena and curling rink during Country Fest. If the fairgrounds were moved to the west side of 105th, the buildings would no longer be available.

“We use it all. It would impact us the most,” Bates said.

The fair association, more than a century old, has been in that location, formerly the Spencer farm, since 1961. However, the only heritage building on the grounds is the old milk house.

The fair association meets on Friday to discuss the issue.

The fairground buildings are also used for Ghost Ridge and numerous other community activities, including swap meets.

Mayor Ernie Daykin said later that it’s an interesting discussion.

“It has some potential,” he said.

However, the land commission also would have to approve the non-farm use of the land on the west side for recreational purposes, he added.

He would expect to see more building space for the agricultural fair than currently exists, as well.

Maple Ridge council will discuss the issue at next Tuesday’s meeting.

Meanwhile, another application to remove land west of 105th Avenue is also going forward.

GSR Holdings is applying to remove land that forms the northern most property in Albion flats. It borders property owned by Steve and John Wynnyk and is also sought for exclusion.

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