MLA voices concerns over Pitt study

A city study to investigate development opportunities on land located off Lougheed Highway in the northern part of Pitt Meadows has its MLA concerned.

New Democrat Michael Sather has already voiced his worries to the provincial Agricultural Land Commission and suggests the city is looking to push development far beyond the 180-metre (600 feet) strip approved for development.

“You mean business when you are putting taxpayers money into a study,” he said. “They clearly want to develop that area.”

Fortune 500 company AECOM is leading the review of the North Lougheed land, with input from an agrologist, economist, land-use and urban planning experts, as well as a transportation engineer.

The $40,000 study is considering 50.9 hectares (125 acres) of land all the way to the yet-to-be built North Lougheed Connector, much of it agricultural.

The area up for review is also designated as a “special study area” in Metro Vancouver’s new regional growth strategy, a plan that will act as a blueprint for land use across the region for the next three decades.

Sather implies the city is testing the waters by doing the study, “trying to see what they can get away with.”

“I just don’t understand how both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows can continue to press these anti-agricultural projects in the world that we live in today,” he added. “To me, it’s pretty unforgivable. I wish they would stop.”

The study doesn’t mean the entire area up to the proposed North Lougheed Connector will be paved, assures Pitt Meadows Mayor Don MacLean.

The city is investigating a variety of uses for the land, including farming.

MacLean said it’s why the consultants are meeting with the ALC and the Pitt Meadows Farmers’ Institute, as well as the city’s agricultural committee.  There has even been talk of an agricultural trust for some of the farm land.

“We are discussing it with the people who farm to find out what they feel about it,” he explained, adding that naysayers don’t care about the farmer, just that the land stays green.

“That’s why we are committed to discussing issues with the farmer about the land,” MacLean said.

The  results of the study will be released  to council and the public by the end of March.