Send all four possible futures for Albion flats to ALC: report

Over to you, guardians of farmland in B.C.

The report released Friday on Albion flats says the four possible futures for the area should all be sent to the Agricultural Land Commission, which should give its written opinion – to be followed by a final decision by Maple Ridge council on what should be the Albion area plan.

“The district will then be in a position to know where the ALC stands and can then be in a position to develop a preferred and final concept plan,” says consultant HB Lanarc.

The report summarizes the brainstorming and public consultation that took place last fall on how to develop the area on the north side of Lougheed Highway at 105th Avenue, most of which is within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

It reviews the four options, which call for varying degrees of agricultural, commercial and recreational use on both sides of 105th Avenue.

“Forwarding all four scenarios will accurately reflect what was heard from all groups at the public forums and will enhance the usefulness of feedback from the ALC,” the consultant says.

The report also notes that Residents for Smart Shopping submitted two plans for the west side of 105th, calling for more intensive development in that area, but didn’t recommend forwarding those to the ALC.

The report concludes that people who were in the October brainstorming sessions “overwhelmingly supported” protecting farmland in Albion flats.

But comments from landowners and other community members in a subsequent extra meeting requested by council supported both large-scale development and farm use.

Any agricultural use would require extensive drainage improvements to the area.

Coun. Michael Morden favoured mixed use in the study area and pointed out the commission has said there has to be good reasons to remove land from the reserve.

He would favour a development that creates a Whistler-type of ambience.

“But I don’t want to see any Wal-Mart down there. I’m not interested in that. I don’t think anybody wants Meadowtown [Shopping Centre in Pitt Meadows], I really don’t.”

Morden, though, doesn’t want the south side of Lougheed Highway, in the Albion industrial area, to be forgotten in the process.

And he wants transportation to be addressed in any Albion area plan.

“You can’t build a city without consideration for transportation, that’s just plain dumb. That’s got to be part of it.

“You can’t put residences there or even jobs there without proper transit. I’m going to be asking for it.”

Morden said he was assuming that TransLink would build another West Coast Express stop near the former Albion ferry terminal, which could connect the area to the commuter rail service. TransLink has previously said that if a train station is built in Albion it would close the station in Port Haney.

He added the plan has to look at the broader picture for the area, including the south side of the highway.

One of the earlier background reports says that the 105th Avenue/Lougheed Highway intersection is adequate for up to 2021 but that more development in Albion flats would require upgrading of that as well as the intersections at 240th Street and at Tamarack Lane.