Building homes on a large green tract of undeveloped industrial land in south Pitt Meadows is not an idea supported by the city’s economic development corporation.
In a letter to council, the corporation’s board stressed the importance of protecting Pitt Meadows’ industrial base, saying residential development won’t result in long-term job creation.
The letter counters a proposal by the owners Alouette Estates to seek a zoning change for part of the 40.4-hectare (100 acres) property on Harris Road – known locally as Cardiff Farms.
“With a goal of job creation in Pitt Meadows, preserving land for employment is critical in supporting this goal,” chair Terry Becker said on behalf of the board.
The corporation believes that preserving Alouette Estates for industrial development presents “a rare and important economic opportunity for Pitt Meadows.”
Residential growth has outpaced commercial growth in the city such that there is a discrepancy between the residential and commercial assessment split, explained Becker, whose husband John was a member of Pitt Meadows council for three terms and until his failed mayoral bid a year ago.
“More commercial and industrial taxes are required to fund programs and services, and balance the revenue stream,” she added.
In September, Mosaic Homes and Alouette Estates pitched council a plan for development, offering to build a new outdoor pool, if a portion of the property can be rezoned from industrial to residential.
The property owners need the city’s support to pursue a change in zoning at the Metro Vancouver level from industrial to residential and believe a mix of uses would be more viable on the site.
Depending on how large it is, the industrial-commercial section could provide 500 to 4,000 jobs.
Mosaic suggested the development could even house a hockey school.
The Cardiff property is across the street from the Golden Ears Business Centre, another light industrial complex.
The comments from the city’s economic development corporation were welcomed by Coun. Janis Elkerton, who refuses to consider any changes to zoning.
“We shouldn’t be wasting valuable industrial land on housing,” said Elkerton, who doesn’t buy the argument that the city has too much industrial land in the area.
“Look what’s on the other side. You can have a quantity of leased land and owned industrial land. That would bring more buyers in.”
The city’s mayor, however, was hoping the economic development corporation would suggest a study for the 40.4 hectare site to help determine what businesses it would attract.
“I have never ever envisioned housing on the whole parcel,” said Walters, who believes a study similar to the one done for the North Lougheed area would benefit the city.
“We can put anything down there, but if it’s not going to be sustainable, it’s not viable. Anything we put in there – we want it to succeed.”
Elkerton, however, doesn’t want the city to spend any money on consultants and studies.
“I think we’ve studied things enough,” she said.
“We shouldn’t be putting more money into that. I’m tired of things being studied four times over before anything happens.”