Maple Ridge council willing to hear about Albion swap

Smart Centres offered to swap land west of 105th Avenue and Lougheed Highway for District of Maple Ridge land on the east side.

Maple Ridge council proposed developing all of Albion flats

Maple Ridge council proposed developing all of Albion flats

Some on Maple Ridge council want to hear what Smart Centres has to say, which would allow the company to make its case for developing in the Albion flats.

The company last week made an opening offer to swap its land west of 105th Avenue and Lougheed Highway for District of Maple Ridge land on the east side of 105th Avenue.

Tuesday evening, council was to decide whether to direct staff to begin those talks.

Coun. Michael Morden at least wanted to hear what Smart Centres has to say.

“I think it merits having a discussion,” he said Monday.

“It’s a necessary step that we need to go through.”

Morden, as do other councillors, wants some resolution about the future of the area.

Smart Centres made the offer after the Agricultural Land Commission said it wouldn’t support development of the farmland on the west side of 105th Ave.

The company has 20 acres on the west side which it’s offering to the district in return for 17 acres on the east side which currently accommodates the Maple Ridge fairgrounds.

If approved, the fairgrounds also would have to move to the west side.

Morden pointed out if council approved such a deal, it could mean improving drainage for Steve and John Wynnyk’s 40 acres in the middle of the Albion flats. The farmers say poor drainage resulting from surrounding development has ruined the soil.

John Wynnyk also said recently that he wouldn’t support Smart Centres’ proposal.

Coun. Corisa Bell is looking forward to discussing the idea of a land swap.

“I find the concept very creative,” she added Monday.

Many people are waiting to see what happens, although nothing will happen immediately, she added.

Coun. Cheryl Ashlie favoured sending the request on to staff.

“I’m more inclined to hear them out and see what staff will come up with.”

She also wants to ensure the user groups, such as the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Agricultural Association, aren’t hurt and that any development doesn’t preclude further building eastward along Lougheed Highway.

“How do we make sure that the fairgrounds will be as good if not better?

“If Smart Centres is coming up with the first piece of the puzzle, it needs to be sure when the rest is done, it looks like a completed project, not a piecemeal project.”

She said when council asked land owners to submit proposals for their properties in the Agricultural Land Reserve, it was to hear their responses to Agricultural Land Commission comments made earlier this year, which said there would be no support of land exclusions on the west side.

The process shouldn’t take any more than six months, Ashlie added.

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