Otter Co-op in Pitt Meadows will close in order to accommodate a new Harris Road underpass at the CP Rail crossing. (Google/Special to The News)

Otter Co-op in Pitt Meadows will close in order to accommodate a new Harris Road underpass at the CP Rail crossing. (Google/Special to The News)

Otter Co-op in Pitt Meadows will be closed for railway underpass

Agricultural Land Commission must approve feed sales at new location

The Otter Co-op on Harris Road will be displaced by new railway infrastructure coming to Pitt Meadows.

The design of the new underpass to take traffic under the railway tracks will mean the business will close at its location at 12343 Harris Rd.

At its March 29 meeting, Pitt Meadows city council unanimously approved the referral of a non-farm use application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), that would allow relocation of the Otter Co-op to the Maple Meadows Equestrian Centre.

However, Otter Co-op spokesperson Vafa Alizadeh clarified the store will not be relocated. The AVP of Ag Solutions said Maple Meadows will be an independent dealer of the co-op’s products, but will not function as a co-op.

He said the Pitt Meadows location had been a “very good store” for Otter Co-op, and they believe they have found a good location on Harris Road for their customers at equestrian centre.

According to council, a joint application from the businesses would permit retail sales of livestock feed and other farm-related products at a building at the Equestrian Centre, at 13634 Harris Rd., which is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, and across from the Pitt Meadows Golf Club.

“Council is committed to maintaining the availability of farm feed and supplies in the community,” said Mayor Bill Dingwall. “The Otter Co-op has been providing a valuable service to farmers in Pitt Meadows since the 1960s, and is instrumental in ensuring that farmers have local access to supplies needed to carry out farming operations.”

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The city is hopeful that the Agricultural Land Commission will see these benefits to the community, and ultimately approve the application.

The proposal is for a retail area in one of the existing buildings at Maple Meadows Equestrian Centre, that would allow for the sale of feed, supplements, farm tools, buckets, seed, fertilizers, and more.

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“Since the revised west alignment of the underpass was determined, council and staff have been working with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Agricultural Advisory Committee, and business owners to ensure that the Otter Co-op continues to operate serving local farm producers and the community,” said Dingwall.

Otter Co-op started in Aldergrove in 1922, and has since expanded into the Fraser Valley, Greater Vancouver, and B.C. Interior. It is marking its 100th anniversary this year.

READ ALSO: Government’s ‘hands-off approach’ to rail safety criticized by NDP transportation critic

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(Neil Corbett/The News)