Forget about chromium found in some parts of the soil in Albion flats, west of 105th Avenue.
Just worry about showing how to fix the low-lying sections of the area that was sought for development, and now must remain farmland, following an Agricultural Land Commission decision this summer.
After the commission nixed two private applications to withdraw land from the farm reserve, Maple Ridge district staff were concerned that its own application to remove land on the east side of 105th Avenue could be bogged down by a requirement to remove chromium.
But after checking with the commission, staff learned – forget about it.
Instead, the district only has to fix the drainage and develop a strategy to fix the low-lying areas on the west side that makes it difficult to farm.
Information for the latter is already available, planning manager Christine Carter said in a Sept. 23 report.
Staff are now working on those details and with luck, by year end, the district can file its own block exclusion application for more than 100 acres, on behalf of land owners on the east side of 105th Avenue.
Excluding land from the east side to allow retail, recreational and business use is the district’s Plan B for the Albion flats after its efforts to develop all of Albion flats were rejected by the commission.
“I’m hopeful by the end of the year, but that might be pushing it,” said Mayor Ernie Daykin.
The land commission has said it supports non-farm use of land on the east side of 105th Avenue.
That could lead to a speedy decision.
“It could be excluded and away we go.”
Daykin said he realizes that a new shopping mall in Albion flats could affect Maple Ridge’s fragile downtown.
“But I also know there is the potential to keep people home shopping.”
A new shopping mall in Albion flats, however, depends on whether the District of Maple Ridge can work out a land swap with mall developer SmartCentres.
SmartCentres wants to swap its land on the west side of 105th Avenue, which is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, for the district’s land on the east side of 105th Avenue, which has the preliminary OK for development.
But Daykin agreed, it can’t be simply an acre-for-acre exchange, with developable district land worth more than SmartCentre’s farmland.
“Acre to acre is not the right value.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, chromium naturally occurs in rocks, animals, plants and soil, while Chromium 3 is an essential element for people, although it can have moderate toxicity through ingestion. Chromium 4, however, is considered cancer causing for workers who inhale the compound.