North Lougheed study starts

Meanwhile, SmartCentres rezoning on hold

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

Fortune 500 company AECOM will lead the review with input from an agrologist, economist, land use and urban planning experts, as well as a transportation engineer.

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

AECOM is set to begin discussions with the Ministry of Transportation about the North Lougheed connector and proposed interchange at Harris Road.

As part of the review, the company will also meet with the Agricultural Land Commission and land owners – including SmartCentres and the Meadows Gardens Golf Course, as well as Metro Vancouver.

The consultants hired have a broad scope to investigate with and can study any commercial possibilities for the area, from the much-discussed big-box mall to the recently pitched casino-conference centre.

Options will be presented to council and the public by the end of March.

City director of operations Kim Grout said business, employment and agriculture are the biggest questions that have to be answered.

SmartCentres rezoning on hold

Pitt Meadows’ city council won’t be seeing an application, filed by mall developer SmartCentres, to rezone a large tract of land in Pitt Meadows north Lougheed commercial strip anytime soon.

City staff want to wait until results of a study on the commercial strip are complete before forwarding the application to council.

“The study is what we would vet anything against,” said city director of operations Kim Grout.

The application to rezone nine hectares (24 acres) of agricultural land to comprehensive development (CD-1) is the first step towards seeing properties along Lougheed Highway transformed.

SmartCentres, for which tenants include Walmart and Home Depot, would like build a large shopping centre on the strip.

Its rezoning application follows the Agricultural Land Commission’s approval in September of a road through farmland that will connect Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.

The company needs the North Lougheed Connector built so shoppers can access the proposed mall as the Ministry of Highways has refused to add an access point to it from Lougheed Highway.

The Ministry of Agriculture confirmed it was contacted by the company last fall regarding the proposed road.

Staff at the ministry referred the company back to the City of Pitt Meadows.

Grout understands the company would like its rezoning application to move forward as quickly as possible, but said it will have to wait.

“I’m sure [SmartCentres] would just like to forge ahead with whatever [its] plan is, but as we’ve said all along, if it’s not predicated on a strong community-based plan, [it] won’t get anywhere,” Grout added.

“Waiting till the end of March is miniscule in the grand scheme of things.”