The North Lougheed lands in Pitt Meadows will be back on council’s agenda in the new year.
Council is set to open its official community plan in 2018, and the 51-hectare property (125 acres) in the northeast corner of the Lougheed Highway and Harris Road is the last big question mark in city land use.
Mayor John Becker refers to it as “a zoning stem cell.”
In April of 2015, council voted to indefinitely defer rezoning for a commercial district there proposed by SmartCentres. The company wanted to develop 43 acres for shopping, and another 19 for a business park. A concept plan council had been considering would allow for big box stores, a hotel and a business park.
The company was prepared to build a section of road, the North Lougheed Connector, a 3.6 km section from Harris Road to Golden Ears Way as part of its work on the project.
“It’s a very significant piece of property, and there are going to be competing values that need to be reconciled,” Becker said.
He explained some people will want to see it remain part of the agricultural land reserve, some will want to see it creating more jobs, and some will see societal needs as the priority – such as public transit infrastructure, and potentially a stop for a B-line bus.
The land has various owners, and much of it is farmland.
Coun. Bruce Bell said he would like to see affordable housing options, such as co-op housing, built on the site. There is a lot of demand for more affordable housing, he added, and the property is well situated to take advantage of transit links.
“That property has got a lot of potential. And build up, so you utilize the land.”
He said with six-storey wood frame buildings becoming more popular for construction in multi-residential and commercial buildings, putting up mid-rise buildings is more financially viable.
Bell acknowledged the city will not be making the investment, but said there are senior government programs to provide affordable housing options.
“The developer needs to be on board.”
The North Lougheed Connector was a big issue for council in 2013 and 2014 that has been pushed to the back burner. Bell said city hall has been busy with the Golden Ears Business Park development by Onni, but should have more time for North Lougheed in the future.
Bell wanted to clarify that he never proposed modular housing for the homeless on the site in Pitt Meadows. That was a proposal brought by Maple Ridge entrepreneur Ron Jones for a site on the west side of Harris Road.
“Modular housing is not a go,” he said.
Becker echoed that sentiment, saying the modular housing proposal “caused a great deal of concern” among residents.
While Becker did not dismiss Jones’ proposal out of hand, he said: “My first concern is the safety and security of the community.”