When it comes to industrial development, the small city of Pitt Meadows punches well above its weight.
The South Bonson area of the city is home to both the Pitt Meadows Airport and Onni’s Golden Ears Business Park – the latter being 200 acres of industrial land, with approximately four million square feet of space for warehouses and light industry.
The business park will be home to large Amazon operations – a 145,000 square foot delivery station, attracted to the area for its access to key transportation routes.
“They’re really trying to be good neighbours, and work with residents and with the city,” said Mayor Nicole MacDonald of Amazon. “I’m optimistic it will be a positive interaction with the community.”
The business park is already home to businesses like PartSource auto parts store, Maxilite Manufacturing which makes lighting fixtures, AGS food manufacturing and many more.
The Golden Ears Business Park is being built in four phases, and phase three has some space for lease, but the rest is fully leased.
Because of all the work being done in South Bonson, there are no plans for industrial development in the near future. The mayor said the city provides a lot of room for light industry already.
“Regionally, we’ve done our part for industrial development,” said MacDonald.
The North Lougheed Connector, at the northeast corner of Harris Road and Lougheed Highway, is being seen as a residential/commercial site of the future, with the potential for education facilities, said MacDonald.
She said there could be potential for agri-tech education facilities there, and noted it is the last large piece of land to develop in the city.
“It’s a development that we’ve got to get right.”
Maple Ridge, however, is actively looking to add employment lands. The city has been stymied in two proposed business park locations by land being in the Agricultural Land Reserve, in both Albion and the Pelton Property near the north access to the Golden Ears Bridge.
“It’s a priority. One of the questions that came up (during the election campaign) is the residential tax base,” said new Maple Ridge Mayor Dan Ruimy.
He said more industrial land is needed both for jobs, and to diversify the tax base. The city’s commercial and industrial strategy identified a need for 170-230 acres of industrial land by 2040.
A consultant told the city it needs a combined 1000 acres of commercial and industrial land, over the next 30 years, and to get the non-residential tax base from nine per cent up to 13.5 per cent – the Lower Mainland average.
Sites have been proposed at 256th near 130th Avenue, on almost 300 develop-able acres, on the Lougheed Highway east of 240 Street, where almost 50 acres could be developed on lands currently used for gravel extraction, and the Yennadon Lands near 232nd Street and 128th Avenue.
The latter is a collection of 13 properties that combine for 63 acres, that could be used for employment lands. But it has been controversial for area residents, who say an industrial use would be a negative impact on the environment, and displace wildlife in the area.
City staff say the area could be used for the technology sector, offices, or light manufacturing companies.
Veteran city councillor Ahmed Yousef has watched city hall staff working to create employment lands over the past four years, and said the staff have done a commendable job of planning and changing zoning, to creating opportunities for investors to walk into.
“Maple Ridge is at a time and place where it has great potential,” said Yousef, but added that it will likely be five to 10 years before politicians are cutting ribbons on large-scale industrial developments.
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