Maple Ridge council has said no to plans by Qualico Developments to build 285 detached homes, townhouses and row homes, plus a grocery store at the eastern entrance to downtown.
Instead, it wants to hold out for a better use of the 45 acres of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure lands that straddle Lougheed Highway, just west of Kanaka Way.
“They’re not offering something to the community that’s going to use those lands in a way we really need,” Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read said Wednesday.
“We want to see better. We need living wage jobs in this community. So we’re hesitant to give up property to residential that may actually serve a different purpose down the road.”
That’s not a blanket no to any kind of development for the property that could serve as the eastern gateway to central Maple Ridge.
Council just wants to see a better use of the land, other than for more residential, plus a small grocery store or medical offices, the latter of which already exists nearby, said Read.
She said the commercial component of the proposal that was discussed at Tuesday’s council meeting, “is not big and its not significant,” and it’s not what the public is seeking in the downtown.
Read isn’t sure if the company will come back to council with a new offer.
An April 20 staff report also says that the 38,750-sq. feet proposed for shopping, including a grocery store similar in size to Cooper’s Foods on 240th Street, would threaten the economic viability of the town centre.
The commercial portion proposed for Lougheed Hwy. “could be a threat to the growth, momentum and well-being of the town centre area,” according to the report.
“Success of the commercial centre on the subject site could be at the expense of town centre sustainability.”
The property, is listed in the Commercial and Industrial Strategy as a possible site for a business park, has been considered for a post-secondary institute that Maple Ridge is trying to attract.
According to staff, Qualico Developments’s consultant said it would be too expensive to regrade the sloped and ravined land to make it suitable for commercial or industrial uses.
G.P. Rollo and Associates, another consultant often used by the city, supports that conclusion.
The land is not considered “feasible as business park lands,” staff say.
“However, other employment-generating uses that have not been assessed may be appropriate for this site.”
Instead, staff have offered other options for developing the site involving a smaller portion of commercial.
“Council wants to see a more rigorous exploration of what commercial and industrial [use] is possible on that land,” Read said.