Maple Ridge wants to keep every square centimetre of land it can for business parks, so it’s sent an application to put houses in such an area between 228th and 232nd streets back to the drawing board.
“If we keep giving up our employment lands for residential, we won’t have jobs for our people in the future,” Mayor Nicole Read said at council’s Tuesday meeting.
A numbered company wants to put 20 single family homes on the western part of the property at 12640 – 228th St.; 33 seniors’ homes in the central part; and 32 live-work units on the eastern side of the property at 12639 – 232nd St.
But the only business-related part of the application consisted of live-work units in a mixed-employment zone, where people could live and work in the same buildings.
“I think the employment component needs to be significantly larger,” Read said.
If the proposal can’t be changed to allow that, the property could sit for another 10 years, she added,
Maple Ridge is the third fastest-growing city in Metro Vancouver and, she said, by 2040 will need another 20,000 jobs.
The property is also outside the urban area boundary, but was excluded from the Agricultural Land Reserve in 2004.
Read said that in order to develop more, the Albion Industrial Area needs expensive flood proofing and upgrading, while the industrial area at the north end of 256th Street is too remote.
“I think this land needs to be protected.”
According to a staff report, the 17 acres involved is part of 60 that are considered to be potential employment or business park lands in the city’s 2012 Commercial and Industrial Strategy. That document sets out several areas Maple Ridge should preserve for light industrial use instead of being used for houses.
Coun. Gordy Robson called for the application to be put over until June 14 and said he’ll ask council to support a motion to change use of the land to industrial.
“This is the best piece of land that we can use for employment.”
The property contains Coho Creek and will require development setbacks to protect the banks of the creek.
“I want to make it very clear to the applicant … I want to see our stream setbacks respected,” added Coun. Kiersten Duncan.
The property is close to transportation routes, said Coun. Craig Speirs, who added that Maple Ridge has to ensure it doesn’t waver in creating the business park lands instead of just building more houses.
Support for deferring the proposal was unanimous among council.
Coun. Bob Masse said Maple Ridge has to create industrial space. Pitt Meadows has more business park space than Maple Ridge with a fifth of the population, he added.
“It’s one of the huge imbalances in our community. It’s causing huge stress and social strife. We have the longest commute time and it’s really showing in our families and homes. We have to create employment opportunities.”
Industrial or business park land can also provide tax revenue, easing the city’s reliance on residential taxation.
The proposal to put in the 85 housing units also drew opposition from people who live nearby. Increased traffic, pressures on existing nearby schools and the effect on wildlife all bothered those who live in the 126B Avenue cul de sac.
“So we’re asking you to vote no to this rezoning application,” said Juliette Gordon.
Evelyn Bliss wanted Coho Creek protected with the standard 30-metre setbacks and said bears, eagles, herons and eagles all frequented the area.