Maple Ridge stands at industrial crossroads

Region will require an additional 2,500 hectares of industrial land over the next 20 years.

Editor, The News:

According to a Port Metro Vancouver discussion paper released last summer, this region will require an additional 2,500 hectares of industrial land over the next 20 years to keep pace with anticipated growth.

Maple Ridge could benefit hugely from this demand if municipal council would abandon its narrow, self-interested, myopic approach to lands within the agricultural land reserve.

While Pitt Meadows has moved ahead progressively to create industrial investment opportunities and jobs, Maple Ridge sticks to its guns by basically pursuing its own interests at the expense of private property owners, resulting in a loss of potential investment, property taxes and jobs.

The best example of this folly is Maple Ridge council’s refusal to support an application to exclude a portion of the Pelton Reforestation property from the agricultural land reserve, while beating the drum for exclusion of the municipally-owned portion of the Albion flats from the reserve.

Port Metro Vancouver is calling for the establishment of an industrial land reserve to set aside suitable lands to meet its development goals and only a fool would think this land will come from anywhere other than agricultural land reserve holdings.

The Pelton site and lands in Pitt Meadows are ideally located adjacent to major transportation routes with ready access to Port Metro facilities and would not require intrusion or impact on surrounding residential development.

The argument that the Pelton site should be reserved for agricultural development is ludicrous. The Luddites who opposed the Pelton application were even photographed holding cabbages and carrots as examples of what those lands could produce. I’ve lived here longer than most of those folks and I can’t recall ever seeing any crops growing on those lands other than grass, which isn’t even entirely suitable for grazing. And I can’t find anyone else who can remember such agricultural production. And large portions of the property are saturated.

The agricultural land reserve was a valid proposal 40 or 50 years ago, but modern production methods and greenhouses have rendered most old-fashioned crop farms on such lands as the Pelton site as less than viable.

And while Maple Ridge continues to fumble the ball on industrial development and the accompanying jobs and taxes, Pitt Meadows carries on, leaving us in their dust.

It reminds me of a conversation I had more than 40 years ago with Harold Sutton, Pitt Meadows reeve at the time. I mentioned to Reeve Sutton that I was happy to be in business in Maple Ridge and he responded, “Sandy, you’d be a lot better off in Pitt Meadows. We are friendlier and have a better attitude.”

Reeve Sutton’s words were true then and remain true to this day.

Maple Ridge stands at a crossroads with huge potential development opportunities ahead, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for council and staff to recognize it and take action.

Sandy Macdougall

Maple Ridge