Quest continues for industrial space in Maple Ridge

But mayor, staff don’t support residential development in Albion area

Office and manufacturing space with some residential were proposed for the Albion Industrial Area last summer.

Office and manufacturing space with some residential were proposed for the Albion Industrial Area last summer.

Maple Ridge’s commercial-industrial strategy is aimed at finding more room for those land uses, but one councillor is calling for a possible reduction in such space in one of Maple Ridge’s prime industrial areas.

“It’s been suggested that we shouldn’t do a quay down in Albion. I would disagree with that,” Coun. Michael Morden said at council’s Monday’s workshop.

Instead, with a mall and a business park planned for the Albion flats on the north side of Lougheed Highway, the south could be a mixed-use area with residential, office space and industrial use, along with a West Coast Express station, part of a “complete community.

Unlike Silver Valley or the Albion residential area – which have been criticized for being incomplete communities – the Albion flats and Albion Industrial Area, south of Lougheed Highway, could be part of a complete community with shops, schools and residences,” Morden said.

“If we went with mixed use, which there seems to be some appetite for … that to me is going to be the great piece of work that’s going to come out of this. I’d say that’s something to shoot for.”

Morden, who plans to run for mayor in the fall, added that any land that’s removed from industrial use would have to be provided somewhere else.

Council has been involved in a long process to find more space for industrial and commercial developments and is looking at eight areas where it could designate another 200 acres for light industry or business parks. The goal is to boost the district’s industrial tax base and ease the property tax burden on homeowners.

But current Mayor Ernie Daykin doesn’t support Morden’s idea.

Instead, he said a marina, quay-type development in the Port Haney area, as allowed for in the downtown plan, makes more sense.

“I haven’t spoken to anybody in the Albion Industrial Area that is keen on residential. At this point, I would not support it.”

Albion is one of Maple Ridge’s major industrial areas and comprises 84 acres and the commercial and industrial strategy recommends it as a “strong employment generator.”

Staff are suggesting that an incentive program could encourage owners to consolidate lots and improve service.

Planning director Christine Carter cited a consultant’s report that said if mixed use is allowed, there won’t be any large industrial sites, should one be needed later.

She said the district is more keen on a marina-type development in the Port Haney area near the downtown.

Canadian Overseas Group, in 2012, presented a proposal for a marina, boardwalk, apartment towers, shops and a park beside the Fraser River on the site of its former log-sort operation next to Port Haney Wharf.

Carter said Maple Ridge isn’t big enough to support two quay-type developments, one in Albion flats and one near Port Haney Wharf.

“If we allow a quay that’s not in the town centre, we will effectively polarize our downtown.”

Carter cited a consultant and said nothing should be done to force property owners from the Albion Industrial Area, although some could eventually relocate to waterfront areas in Ruskin, or to the north end of 256th Street.

Coun. Corisa Bell said she wanted to ensure that another open house between Albion Industrial Area property owners gets enough attendance.

She asked, why plans are underway to develop Albion flats, on the north side of Lougheed Highway, if the focus is on developing the downtown?

SmartCentres mall development company is currently working on a land swap with the District of Maple Ridge so it can acquire developable land on the east side of 105th Avenue.

Carter said the district will work to ensure that any such development there doesn’t compete with the town centre.

The discussion followed a concept created last summer for office and manufacturing space with some second-storey residential in the Albion Industrial Area, proposed by the family owners of Kingfisher’s Waterfront Bar and Grill and two adjacent lots.

“We definitely want to do something down here. We definitely see the potential,” said Ted Hume, with Kingfisher.

But he wants to proceed cautiously until the district firms up its plans. He says he wasn’t informed that the commercial industrial strategy was underway and, as a result, about 12 other property owners have formed a loose association calling for improvements in the area.

Maple Ridge staff held a focus group in response to the Hume proposal to get a wide range of views. There is still a variety of opinions on what should happen in the area, said public works manager Frank Quinn.

Hume didn’t see why both waterfront developments couldn’t happen, just as it’s happened in New Westminster or Steveston and questions the district favouring development in one area and not the other.

“We’ve paying a lot of money down here to develop other areas.

“I don’t see why it couldn’t happen.

“All it takes is vision and the willingness to move on the vision.”

Hume pointed out that when the former shake mill was running on his two lots, it employed about eight people, while his new pub next door employs about 45.

Coun. Bob Masse said the idea of mixed used projects in Albion has been mentioned before. However, “It hasn’t got that level of traction there.

Coun. Cheryl Ashlie doesn’t support residential use in the Albion Industrial Area.

“We don’t want to lose our industrial opportunities there by putting residential like the rest have done in the Lower Mainland.”

She pointed out many uses, apart from residential, are possible in the Albion Industrial Area.

“I haven’t heard the majority [on council] saying they’re interested in residential in our industrial lands, on the southern part of the flats of the Albion area.”

She favoured the marina development proposed for near Port Haney Wharf because it anchors the downtown and doesn’t want to lose the opportunity for industrial.

“I think we’ll be doing a disservice to how we actually have a really well-thought out community.

“We can’t lose our industrial land, we just can’t.”

Council told staff to bring back a report on the commercial and industrial strategy recommendations to a future committee meeting, as well as a plan on how to implement it.