They fought the proposal to take the Pelton Reforestation property from the farm reserve in 2005. Now they’re back at it again.
“I thought, ‘Oh no, not again, all over again,’” said author Annette LeBox.
“I’m quite heartbroken about it, actually. How many times do we have to fight the same fight to preserve the disappearing farmland? It’s just constant, the pressure on it.”
Maple Ridge council has asked for a staff report on the proposal by the Aquilini Investment Group to remove 202 acres of the former Pelton property at 203rd Street and Golden Ears Way from the Agricultural Land Reserve in order to create a business park or agro-industrial area.
An exclusion application by the previous owners was made in 2010 and another proposal in 2004 didn’t make it past council.
LeBox helped organize opposition in the previous attempts and now along with former Maple Ridge council candidate Carly O’Rourke is trying to rally opposition to the latest proposal with an online, Change.org petition.
So far, 140 people have signed the petition, titled “No Agricultural Land Exclusion for Aquilini.”
Mayor Nicole Read has said she wants the larger community to get involved in the debate and that people want the city to attract more local jobs.
LeBox, wife of former NDP MLA Michael Sather, agrees that Maple Ridge does need jobs, but there other areas where those can be developed.
“You don’t need to put warehouses there on farmlands. Future generations, we’re going to need that land to feed ourselves.
With drought in California, “We may need to grow our own food and so to pave it over doesn’t make sense. It’s very short-term.”
She also wonders how many jobs would result from developing the property.
She said the Pitt Polder Preservation Society, which tried to preserve farmland a decade ago, is now dissolved.
“We thought that this would be done.”
O’Rourke said the issue will show the divides that may exist on council.
She also said that changes to the Agricultural Land Commission may make it easier for exclusion applications.
While farming is going high tech, all the options for farming should be kept open, said O’Rourke.