Maple Ridge council votes against one-acre lots

Doesn't want rural area in east part of city to be suburbanized

Maple Ridge council, unlike its predecessor, is saying no to allowing one-acre lots in the east.

Tuesday, council rejected a proposal to subdivide two properties – at 11795 – 267th St. and at 11839 – 267th St. – and put in a total of 12 new homes on one-acre lots.

“I won’t be supporting this. This is suburban sprawl at its worst,” said Coun. Craig Speirs. “I don’t think it’s a positive for the community.”

Allowing one-acre lots in the area would create problems in the future with servicing and increase commuting times, Speirs added.

Rezoning to allow suburban residential in that area, however, is allowed under Maple Ridge’s official community plan.

Coun. Corisa Bell felt the same way, pointing out the development site is outside the urban boundary, and that she opposed a previous application for the same reason.

Coun. Kiersten Duncan also had concerns about providing services to the area such as transit once the new houses are built.

“It’s just an unsustainable development.”

“Ditto,” added Coun. Gordy Robson.

“I don’t think that this city can handle another growth area,” said Mayor Nicole Read.

By allowing growth in Silver Valley and Albion, “We have stretched ourselves thin in many ways,” without ensuring there’s enough recreation or schools for the new suburbs.

Read noted that when Maple Ridge reaches a population of 100,000 (currently at 80,000), the official community plan allows the city to consider allowing suburban expansion to Thornhill, east of 248th Street.

When it’s time to do that, “we can responsibly make some decisions about what a new community looks like … making sure we can deliver a complete community, not just residential homes. So I will not be supporting this,” Read said.

The present council has approved similar developments in the area previously because they had already been partly supported by the past council, she pointed out.

The eastern area is outside Maple Ridge’s urban area boundary, where more city-type development is supposed to occur, and where Metro Vancouver wants to maintain as rural. But Coun. Tyler Shymkiw said that Metro Vancouver’s policy allows development of one-acre lots in rural areas.

Robson, though, said it makes no sense to allow subdivision to one-acre lots.

“It’s the epitome of urban sprawl.”

Duncan added later that Maple Ridge is trying to improve things for Silver Valley and Albion residents by providing recreation features and building a sense of community.

“When you develop out and you’re spread too thin, you’re unable to give people all those things.”

That makes it financially unaffordable to the city to supply features, such as parks, roads, sidewalks or libraries, she said.

Speirs added that in such rural residential developments, “the children there are less fit, less socialized and they’re more obese.

“That’s strictly a numbers game. We know about that.”

Shymkiw challenged that and said that people who move there are seeking a rural lifestyle.

Coun. Bob Masse, however, said he wanted more information so the public understood why council opposed the development.

Such a development could be used for the city’s fiscal impact exercise that would quantify the costs to the rest of the city of building and servicing suburbs.

A report from 2006 said that up to 1,600 rural residential lots could be built in east Maple Ridge.

“It just doesn’t make any sense at all to subdivide down to one- or two-acre lots out there,” Robson said.

Shymkiw was the only one who voted for first reading of the rezoning.