River development proposal has Maple Ridge group up in ARMS

31-lot proposal back for second reading in the new year

A proposal to put estate homes and a waterfront park on the South Alouette River has a local river group concerned about flooding and habitat damage.

Maple Ridge council, in October, gave first reading to a rezoning proposal for a 20-acre site at the north end of 240th Street and the South Alouette River.

The proposal is to create a 31-lot subdivision, with most lots averaging a third of an acre, in a zone where lots are usually an acre in size.

In return for the higher density, the developer is proposing to create a three-acre waterfront park, that would include Davison’s Pool, also known as Hot Rocks.

As well, more than half of the actual property would be dedicated as conservation land.

The property is designated estate suburban, under Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy, but Maple Ridge can increase the density of such zones anywhere west of 244th Street.

Council can also increase density if there’s a possible community benefit in return.

Development in the flood plain, though, concerns the Alouette River Management Society, which is studying the proposal and its possibe effect on downstream properties and the river itself.

ARMS is going to send a detailed list of its concerns prior to the proposal getting second reading sometime next year.

According to a staff report, about 86 per cent of the site is located within the flood plain.

City staff though have to evaluate the project as well, said Coun. Bob Masse, who’s the council liaison to the river society.

“They are clearly, very concerned. ARMS does not like the proposal,” said Masse.

“And that’s listened to.”

Masse pointed out that the development is not all in the flood plain of the South Alouette River.

And many cities continue to build within flood plains, subject to certain building standards.

But he said council will listen carefully to staff environmental and engineering reports.

“That’s what we count on. If it doesn’t get the nod from staff, then it won’t get the nod from council, either.”

But if technical reports support the project, council would then look at other aspects of the development.

ARMS president Ken Stewart said his group will meet with developers in January to discuss the project, but added it would have to change considerably to get the group’s support.

The group is concerned about bringing construction fill on to site beside the river, which could narrow the channel. Habitat loss and flooding issues are other concerns.

Stewart wonders why the city would even consider allowing greater than one-acre lot density on the property.

“In theory, these are one-acre lots.”

Stewart also points out that 24oth Street is the location of the next proposed crossing of the South Alouette River, to provide a second access point to Silver Valley.

That could see residents of the proposed development having to wend their way around bridge piers to get to their residences.

According to the staff report, the 240th Street road right of way is earmarked in the major corridor network plan as a possible bridge connection. And if built, the bridge would split the property into two.

The proponent, though, suggests that the development could be designed to face away from the road to minimize the impacts.

Two previous proposals to put in a more dense developments a few years ago never proceeded.

“ARMS is always concerned about flood plain issues relating to the South Alouette. Future development of any designated flood plain along the Alouette River would also be of concern to ARMS,” added executive-director Greta Borick-Cunningham.

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