The public will have a chance to comment on an application by the City of Pitt Meadows to remove a large tract of farmland from the agricultural reserve, paving the way for commercial development along a green stretch on the north side of Lougheed Highway.
The decision to submit an exclusion application split council, who voted 4-3 in July to proceed with a plan that would see all 50.9 hectares (125 acres) of land developed.
Of the land being considered for development, only around 17.5 hectares (43 acres) are zoned highway commercial.
The remaining 33.1 hectares (81 acres) would have to be removed from the provincial agricultural land reserve. Five of the properties in the proposed exclusion area have fields in production, growing corn for silage, forage and blueberries. Each of the properties have different owners, including the city’s former fire chief, Bill Park, veterinarian George Robertson, the Meadows Gardens Golf Course and Pitt Meadows Shopping Centres Ltd. (a subsidiary of SmartCentres).
Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters said council decided to dedicate a separate evening to the public hearing, instead of combining it with a regular council meeting.
It means the hearing will not be televised, but Walters assured people who speak will have their comments recorded.
“Whatever their comments are will go forward to the ALC,” she said.
“We want input from the community. We will listen. We won’t debate it.”
Council’s decision to submit an exclusion application goes against the wishes of Pitt Meadows residents who commented on the land use study. They overwhelmingly supported a concept, which set aside 16 hectares (39.5 acres) for farming or other agricultural uses, like a land trust or food processing facility.
The agricultural land commission has already approved a road through farmland on the north side of the highway.
Environmentalists who oppose a plan to develop the North Lougheed corridor are hoping for a show of force at the public hearing and are planning to voice their opposition by writing letters to the land commission.
“We are hoping for a big turn out,” said Peter Jongbloed, vice-president of the Pitt Polder Preservation Society.
“We don’t want to lose anymore farmland.”
A public hearing will be held on Monday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. at city hall in Pitt Meadows. Download a copy of the North Lougheed Land Use Study.